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The Old Shipmasters 
of Salem 

With Mention of Eminent Merchants 


Charles E, Trow 

Author of " Prose and Verse," " Historical Sketches," etc. 

They stood the storm when winds were rough, 

But in a sunny hour fell off. 
Like ships that have gone down at sea 

When heaven was all tranquility. — Moore. 

G, P. Putnam's Sons 

New York and London 

Xlbe Ifcnicherbockec ipcees 


CdPYRIGHT, igd^ 


Ubc ItnicFJcrbocfecr (5ress, View jgorft 

In Memory of ' 
The Old-Time Shipmasters of Salem, 







/y/I Y object in writing this book has been, 
* primarily, to commemorate the char- 
acters of that rare class of men, the Master 
Mariners of Salem, who lived and flourished 
in the long ago. I do not claim to have 
given that biographical turn to my re- 
searches which might be expected in such 
a work, but my aim has been rather to take 
a broader view of things. I have, therefore, 
quoted from the old sea journals only that 
which would bear directly on the life and 
times which I have tried to describe. The 
records of many other captains are as 
noteworthy as those presented, but space 
would not allow more extended reference. 
To recount the brave deeds of all the old 
captains would require many volumes. 

C. E. T. 

Salem, March 30, 1904. 


Chapter I 


The Early Commerce of Salem — Marine Society — East India 
IWuseum and Peabody Academy of Science — The Old By- 
Laws — Educational Advantages Offered . . . . i 

Chapter II 

Glimpses of the Old IWariners — IWore of the By-Laws — Founders 
of the Marine Society — Grand Turk the First Salem Ship 
to Visit the East Indies — Importance of the Foreign Trade 
in 1790 — How the Mate Got "Square" with the Captain 
— Captain Throws the Pilot Overboard .... 7 

Chapter III 

Were the Shipmasters Superstitious? — Goat in the Foretop — 
Both "Watches" in Mortal Terror— Story Telling, Witti- 
cisms, and Practical JoI<es — Captain Tucker's " Yarn " — The 
Haunted Sailor — Ghost of his Former Shipmate . .18 

Chapter IV 

The Manifold Mysteries of the Sea — Story of Captain Frederick 
Johnson, about the Man who Left the Ship Restless on a Raft 
in the Night — News of the Death of Washington Received 
— The Shipmasters Prominent in the Funeral Procession . 31 

Chapter V 

The Codfish a Potent Factor in the Eariy Commerce — Import- 
ance of Salem, Commercially, as Compared with Boston 
— Some of the Prominent Merchants — Captain Thomas 
Perkins's Munificent Gift— Where the Old Captains Meet . 43 

viii Contents 

Chapter VI 


Journal and Record of the Ship George — Death of Greenleaf 

Perley— The Mate's Poetic Tribute— Last of the Old Ship . 57 

Chapter VII 

Interesting Correspondence from the Salem Register — The Ships 
Hazard (First and Second) — IWodel of the Frigate Constitu- 
tion, etc. — Commodore Bainbridge's Visit to Salem in 18 13 
— Captain Charles H. Allen's Voyages — The Ships St. Paul 
and Mindoro — Last of the Indiamen .... 68 

Chapter VIII 

Fellow-Feeling among the JWariners — Love for their Native Land 
and the American Flag — The Corsairs and their Atrocities — 
War with Algiers — The Brave Commanders Decatur and 
Bainbridge ........ 75 

Chapter IX 

Privateers in the Revolutionary War and that of 1 8 1 2 — Captain 
Haraden and Other Brave Commanders — The British Navy 
Crippled by American Privateers — Extracts from the Cap- 
tain's Journal ........ 83 

Chapter X 

Cruise of the Famous Privateer Grand Turk — How this Ship 
Escaped from Two British Frigates — Fight of the Ship Mont-, 
gomery with an English Packet Brig — Bravery of Captain 
Benjamin Upton . . .... 95 

Chapter XI 

Fight between the Chesapeake and the Shannon — Bodies of 
Commander Lawrence and Lieutenant Ludlow Brought to 
Salem from Halifax in Brig Henry — Crew and Officers All 
Sea Captains — Impressive Funeral Services and Imposing 
Procession — The Bodies Entombed in Salem . . .106 

Contents ix 

Chapter XII 


Captain Thomas Fuller — His Capture by Pirates in 1832 — The 
Captain's Last Meeting with One of the Pirates — His Nar- 
row Escape from Mutineers — Capture of Two Salem Ships 
by Malays . . . . . . . • " 3 

Chapter XIII 

The Essential Qualities in a Shipmaster — Journal of Captain 
Stuart — Ship Hard and Fast on Shore — Four of the Crew 
Sick — The Situation Truly Deplorable — Supposed Pirates 
Prove to be Friendly Dutchmen — One of the Sick Sailors 
Dies — Again at Sea — Strenuous Experiences in Gales of 
Wind — Visit from Captain Derby of the Ship Margaret 
— Captain Carnes Discovers Pepper Growing Wild on the 
Coast of Sumatra — Salem Monopolizes the Pepper Trade . 124 

Chapter XIV 

Voyage of Captain Nichols in the Ship Aotive — His Journal 
Replete with Instructive Information — Description of the 
City of Funchal — Catching Fish — St. Paul's Island — Pen- 
Pictures of Colombo — Ceylon and its Coast — Meeting with 
Difficulty in Finding Market for Cargo — Arrives at Madras 
— George Cleveland's Notes on Nagasaki . . . 140 

Chapter XV 

stories of Shipwreck and Disaster — The Wreck of the Ship 
Formosa — An Island Reached by Crew — Submerged at 
High Tides — Sailors Build a Platform on Cocoanut-Trees 
— Loss of Ship Humholdt — Captain Powars Tells a Thrill- 
ing Story — The Mdf^arei Never Returned . . • '58 

Chapter XVI 

Short of Fresh Water Causes Alarm — Captain Williams's Inven- 
tion to Make Salt Water Fresh — His " Still " Described by 
him — Notes on his Voyage — In Shoal Water . .178 


Chapter XVII 


Captain George Nichols Sails on Another Voyage in the Ship 
Active — Inadequacy of Charts as a Guide for Mariners — 
Slaughtering Seals — Strange Findings in Huts on Desolate 
St. Paul's Island— Hogs and Fowls Roaming at Will- 
Shooting Black Fish — Arrives at the Port of Muscat — The 
Natives and the Government— On the Lookout for Pirates 185 

Chapter XVIII 

Dr. Nathaniel Bowditch— His Early Life in Salem— Difficulties 
in Acquiring Knowledge — Test of Young Bowditch's Mathe- 
matical Ability — His Voyages as Supercargo — Correcting Er- 
rors in Standard Nautical V^^orks- Voyage to Lisbon in 1 796 196 

Chapter XIX 

More about the Life of Dr. Bowditch — He Continues his Journal 
— Interesting Incidents in Connection with Obtaining a 
Cargo — Notes on Manila — Thieves Rob Captain Prince of 
$1000 — Pursued, they Lose the Money Overboard from their 
Boat — Cargo Worth a Million Dollars . . . 207 

Chapter XX 

Voyage of Captain John White to the China Sea — Fight with 
Pirates near the Straits of Banka — At Canjeo — Native Chiefs 
Visit the Captain . . . . . . .217 

Chapter XXI 

Captain of the Franklin in a Sea of Trouble — Chiefs Demand 
Presents — Captain Attends Reception by the Officials — He 
is Tendered a Banquet — Difficulty in Getting Permission to 
Ascend the Donnai River ... . . 234 

Chapter XXII 

Narrow Escape from Tigers — Startling Phenomenon — Pagoda 
Dedicated to Evil Spirits — Natives Worship the Devil 
through Fear — The Bewitched Dog-^Arrival of the Mar- 
mion — Diplomacy of Mr. Putnam . . . . • 25 1 

Contents xi 

Chapter XXIIl 


Arrival of the Franklin at Saigon — Captain White's Graphic 
Description of the Natives — His Visit to an Official's House 
— Reception by the Governor — Description of Saigon 267 

Chapter XXIV 

Conspiracy to Defraud the Captain — Villainy and Turpitude of 
Officials — Everybody Clamorous for Presents, from the King 
down — Women Merchants — Remarkable Story about a 
Tigress and a Puppy — Selling Wives to Creditors . . 285 

Chapter XXV 

Trying to Conciliate the Governor — Shameless Rogues — Extor- 
tion by Officials in Paying for Measurement of Vessels — 
Paying Charges at Custom-House in Copper Coin — Assailed 
by a Shower of Stones — Trying to See who could Hold out 
the Longer ... . . . 303 

Chapter XXVI 

Fight with Snakes in the Donnai River — The Viceroy's Quaint 
Banquet Complimentary to the American Officers — The 
Viceroy Helps his Guests by Cramming Food down their 
Throats — The White Men a Curiosity to the Ladies of 
Saigon — Difficulty in Obtaining Rice— Preparations to Repel 
Pirates — Sailing of the Franklin — Arrival at Salem . . 320 

Index 339 



Interior Peabody Academy of Science — Marine 

Hall ...... Frontispiece 

Models of Frigate Constitution (1813); Friendship 
(1804); Ohio (1840); with othier American vessels and 
foreign craft. Bath-tubs in the foreground brought from 
the Indies a century ago. 

Captain Frederick Johnson, master of the ship 

Restless 14 

Nathaniel Hawthorne 26 

Born July 4, 1804. Died IVlay 19, 1864. Surveyor of 
Port of Salem (1846-1849). From a photograph by 

Hawthorne's Birthplace, Union Street, Salem, 

Mass 38 

Elias Hasket Derby (1739- 1 799) ... 48 

One of his ships {Grand Turk) in the distance. He was 
a pioneer in the East India trade, and at the time of his 
death was reputed to be the richest man in the United 

Elias Hasket Derby's house, erected in 1799 at a 

cost of $80,000 60 

Drawing from an old engraving. 

xiv Illustrations 


Captain John Bertram (1796-1882), shipmaster 

and merchant .7° 

Captain Bertram was a philanthropist, and dispensed 
large sums of money for charitable purposes. From an 
oil painting by Edward Parker. 

Captain Chas. H. Allen, commander of the St. 

Paul, and other noted ships ... 84 

The Gardner house, Essex Street ... 98 

This house was built by Capt. John Gardner, merchant, 
about the beginning of the last century. Now the resi- 
dence of David Pingree, a retired merchant. 

Battle between the Chesapeake and the Shan- 

noUj ]une i, 1813 108 

From the painting by J. C. Schetky, 

Jacob Crowninshield, merchant and member of 

Congress (1770- 1808) . . . .114 

Mr. Crowninshield was appointed Secretary of the Navy 
by President Jefferson, but declined the honor. From 
an oil painting by Robert Hinkley. 

William Gray (1760-1825) . . . .126 

IWr. Gray owned, in 1807, fifteen ships, seven barks, 
thirteen brigs, and one schooner, or one-fourth of the ton- 
nage of the port of Salem. His stately mansion was sub- 
sequently occupied as a hotel (the Essex Coffee House). 
JWr. Gray was elected Lieut.-Governor of Massachusetts in 
1810-11. From the original portrait by Stuart. 

Ship America. Famous privateer in the War of 
18 12. Built in Salem in 1804 by Retire 
Becket 138 

From a painting by Anton Roux, as the ship lay in the 
harbor of Marseilles. 

Illustrations xv 


Ship St. Paul. (Type of 1840.) . . .144 

From an oil painting in possession of Geo H. Allen, 
whose father, Chas. H. Allen, commanded the ship during 
many voyages. 

Clipper Ship 'Formosa, 1300 tons. (Type of 
1870.) Lost on Tweeling Island, Allass 
Straits, 1880. Silsbee, Pickman & Allen, 
owners 154 

From an oil painting in possession of Geo. H. Allen. 

Captain Joseph Peabody (1757-1844) . . 168 

Eminent as a merchant. From the original portrait by 
Charles Osgood, a Salem painter of note. 

Peabody Academy of Science, and East Indian 

Marine Museum 176 

Ship Margaret, that never returned . . .180 

From an oil painting by Benj. West. 

Col. Benjamin Pickman's house, erected in 1750, 
now standing in rear of the Peabody Acad- 
emy of Science 190 

Col. Pickman was a successful merchant, and was largely 
engaged in shipping dried fish to foreign countries. Re- 
presentations of the codfish were painted on the front 
stairs of his house. 

Dr. Nathaniel Bowditch (1773- 1838) . . . 200 

World-renowned navigator and author of scientific 
works. From copy by Miss A. W. Woodbury. After 
Charles Osgood. Essex Institute. 

Birthplace of Nathaniel Bowditch, erected about 

1750 212 

House is still in a good state of preservation. 

xvi Illustrations 


Captain Thos. Fuller, ninety-one years of age . 222 

Captured by pirates in the brig Mexican, 1832. 

The Jacob Crowninshield house, corner Herbert 

and Derby Streets. Built about 1740 . .238 

Philip English house, erected in 1683 and de- 
molished in 1833. Mr. English was one of 
the earliest merchants of Salem . . . 254 
Drawing from an old print. 

Ship Hazard I St. Built in Salem, 1799 . . 264 

From water-color painting by M. Corne (1805). Pea- 
body Academy of Science. 

Ship Hazard 2d. (Type of 1850.) . . . 278 

Ship Brooklyn. (Type of 1830.) . . . 288 

From an oil painting owned by Geo. H. Allen. 

Salem Custom House (built 1818), in which 

Hawthorne planned his " Scarlet Letter '' . 298 

Ship Mindoro, lying at Central Wharf, Salem, 

1896 302 

This ship was the last of the East Indiamen, and was 
owned by Silsbee, Pickman & Allen. 

Launching of Ship Fame near Crowinshjeld's 

Wharf, Salem Harbor, 1802 . . . 310 

From the original painting by Geo. Ropes. Essex 

The celebrated Ship George . . . .318 
Drawing from the original painting owned by Geo. H. 

Salem Marine Bethel 330 


By Charles S. Osgood 

'X'HERE are but few of the streets in Salem 
^ that have witnessed such changes as 
the now somewhat dilapidated Derby Street. 
Once the court end of the town, with hand- 
some houses lining its northern side, the 
homes of some of those who have made 
Salem famous in the annals of the country, 
it has passed through various vicissitudes 
of fortune until now it is like the scion of 
some aristocratic family who has run through 
his means and has taken to drink as a solace 
for his misfortunes. 

The stranger in town will probably walk 
down Derby Street in search of reminiscences 
of Hawthorne. On the way he will pass 
the old house on the corner of Herbert 
Street, built in the old days of Richard 

xviil Introduction 

Derby, and which still retains a quaint ex- 
terior, somewhat fallen into decay, with 
its garden where the old-fashioned flowers, 
the hollyhock, the marigold, and the aster, 
grew in almost hopeless confusion, and with 
its "lean-to" covered with vines, hiding 
the brown clapboards, and making a pictur- 
esque and artistic picture. He will see the 
more pretentious house on the corner of 
Orange Street, formerly the residence of 
Benjamin W. Crowninshield, Madison's Sec- 
retary of the Navy, now occupied as a home 
for aged women. He will probably mount 
the steps of the Custom House, next door, 
to view the scene of Hawthorne's labors, 
an edifice built on the site of the mansion 
house of George Crowninshield, the owner 
of the famous privateer America, and whose 
son George made a trip to Europe in the 
yacht Cleopatra's Barge, the first American 
vessel to cross the ocean solely on a pleas- 
ure excursion. He will continue on until on 
the corner of Turner Street he will see the 
old Waters mansion, once the residence of 
one of Salem's old families, now the haven 

Introduction xix 

of refuge of certain worthy old gentlemen, 
who, after being buffeted about on the 
ocean of life, have now drifted into this 
quiet eddy and are calmly and peacefully 
waiting for the next and last change in their 
earthly career. He will turn down Turner 
Street to see the "house of the seven ga- 
bles." Far be it from me to suggest to the 
credulous stranger that any doubt exists as 
to this being the veritable house that was in 
the mind of the novelist when he wrote his 
famous story. Travelers are humbugged 
the world over, and these little romances 
rather add to the delights of travel. 

But the visitor to Derby Street would 
have seen it at its best during the days of 
Salem's commercial prosperity with which it 
is intimately connected. Here at its wharves 
were docked the vessels which brought 
from all countries tributes to Salem. How 
like a dream it seems to the younger gen- 
erations of Salem, this story of the old days, 
when Salem merchants almost monopolized 
the commerce with most of the far-away 
countries ! Then the merchandise ware- 

XX Introduction 

houses contained silics from India, tea from 
Ciiina, pepper from Sumatra, coffee from 
Arabia, spices from Batavia, gum copal from 
Zanzibar, hiides from Africa, and numerous 
other products of the lands beyond the sea. 
This commercial activity began with the close 
of the War of the Revolution. When peace 
was declared, the merchants of Salem found 
themselves in possession of many large and 
swift-sailing vessels which had been built 
for use as privateers. These being too large 
to be profitably employed in the coasting 
trade, or on short voyages to other ports 
heretofore visited by Salem ships, their own- 
ers determined to open to distant countries 
new avenues of trade and bring to Salem 
the products of lands lying in the remotest 
quarters of the globe. There was no lack 
of seamen to man the vessels. The young 
men of the town, fresh from service on the 
armed ships of Salem, were eager to em- 
bark in just such ventures as a voyage to 
unknown countries offered. They had 
served with Harraden in his daring exploits 
off the coast of Spain, and had been with 

Introduction xxi 

West when, in the darkness of night, he cut 
his prize out of a British harbor under the 
guns of the enemy. What wonder that, 
after wielding the cutlass and the boarding- 
pike, they were not contented to put their 
hands to the plow or to return to the daily 
drudgery of the workshop. The spirit of 
adventure was aroused, and the more dan- 
gerous and perilous the undertaking, the bet- 
ter it suited the temper of these wild and 
courageous graduates from the deck of the 

From the close of the War of the Revolu- 
tion until the embargo in 1808, Salem was 
at the height of her commercial prosperity. 
The white sails of Salem's ships were un- 
furled in every port of the known world and 
carried the fame and name of Salem to the 
uttermost parts of the earth. 

It was the young men of Salem that offi- 
cered her ships, sailing as captains at an age 
when the boys of the present time are 
scarcely over their school days. At the be- 
ginning of one of the East India voyages 
of nineteen months, neither the captain 

xxii Introduction 

(Nathaniel Silsbee), nor his first mate (Chas. 
Derby), nor his second mate (Richard J. 
Cleveland) was twenty years old, and yet 
these boys carried ship and cargo, safely to 
their destination, with imperfect mathemati- 
cal instruments and with no charts but of 
their own making, and returned with a cargo 
which realized four or five times the original 
capital. With no power to communicate 
with home, the success of the undertaking 
was largely in the hands of these youthful 
captains. Their duty was not ended when 
the ship arrived safely in port, for upon their 
judgment and sagacity in buying and selling 
depended the profits of the voyage. 

In those early days, when a vessel left 
Salem harbor, there was often nothing 
heard from her until after the lapse of a year 
or more she would come sailing back again. 
To-day the earth is girdled with the tele- 
graph, and the arrival of a ship in a foreign 
harbor can be known at home almost within 
an hour of her reaching port. Then foreign 
prices were unknown and the result of a 
voyage might be splendid success or ruinous 

Introduction xxili 

disaster ; now a voyage is merely a passage 
from port to port with the market ascer- 
tained beforehand at either end. 

When Captain Jonathan Carnes set sail 
for Sumatra in 1795, on his secret voyage 
for pepper, nothing was heard from him 
until eighteen months later he entered with 
a cargo of pepper in bulk, the first to be so 
imported into this country, and which sold 
at the extraordinary profit of seven hundred 
per cent. This uncertainty which hung 
over the fate of the ship and cargo lent a ro- 
mantic interest to those early voyages which 
this age, with its telegraph and steamship, 
has destroyed. 

Derby Street in the days of Salem's com- 
merce was full of bustling activity. The 
wharves were crowded with vessels dis- 
charging their cargoes, gathered from all 
nations, or loading for another venture 
across the seas. Sailors fresh from the dis- 
tant Indies were chatting on the street 
corners with companions about to depart 
thither, or were lounging about the doors 
of the sailor boarding-houses with that 

xxiv Introduction 

indescribable air of disdain for all landsmen 
which seems always to attach to the true 
rover of the seas. They were looked upon 
by the younger portion of the community 
with that curiosity which is so near akin to 
awe, with which we regard those about to 
start upon, or who have just returned from, 
some uncommonly perilous undertaking. 
The shops on Derby Street were full of 
strange and unique articles brought from 
distant lands. The parrot screamed at the 
open door, and in the back shop the monkey 
and other small denizens of foreign forests 
gamboled at will, sometimes escaping to 
the neighboring housetops, much to the 
delight of the small children who gathered 
to watch their capture with upturned faces 
and expressions of intense interest in the 
result of the chase. 

Salem at that time was one of the princi- 
pal points for the distribution of foreign 
merchandise, over eight million pounds of 
sugar being among the imports of the year 
1 800. The streets about the wharves were 
alive with teams loaded with goods for all 

Introduction xxv 

parts of the country. It was a busy scene 
with the coming and going of vehicles, some 
from long distances, for railroads were then 
unknown, and all transportation had to be 
carried on in wagons and drays. In the 
taverns could be seen teamsters from all 
quarters, sitting around the open fire in the 
chilly evenings, discussing the news of the 
day, or making merry over potations of New 
England rum, which Salem in the good old 
times manufactured in abundance. 

All this has changed. The sail-lofts, 
where on the floor sat the sailmakers with 
their curious thimbles fastened to the palms 
of their hands, busily stitching the great 
white sheets of canvas that were to carry 
many a gallant ship safely through storm 
and tempest to her destination in far distant 
harbors, and that were to be reflected in 
seas before unvexed by the keel of an Ameri- 
can vessel, are deserted or given over to 
more prosaic uses. The ship-chandlers' 
shops are closed, and the old mathemati- 
cal-instrument maker has taken in his swing- 
ing sign of a quadrant, shut up his shop, and. 

xxvi Introduction 

as if there were no further use for him here, 
has started on the long voyage from which 
there is no return. The foreign commerce 
of Salem, once her pride and glory, has 
spread its white wings and sailed away 

Although commerce has sought other 
ports and is no longer prosecuted here, the 
influence of the old-time merchants and 
shipmasters, whose energy and enterprise, 
whose daring and far-sightedness, made 
such an unparalleled chapter in the history 
of Salem, still lingers with us. Salem to- 
day owes to these men the high position 
she holds in the world of science. Their 
broad and liberal views, stimulated by con- 
tact with all nations, prepared their descend- 
ants for the good work which is now being 
carried on in her midst. Their rare and 
unique collection of curiosities, now in the 
possession of the Peabody Academy of Sci- 
ence, grows in importance each year, and is 
one of the principal points of interest to visit- 
ors. As such it will always remain, a per- 
petual monument to the far-seeing and 

Introduction xxvil 

public-spirited merchants and shipmasters 
of Salem. 

For the Derby Street of to-day not much 
can be said. Its glory is in the past. It has 
played its part in history and must now be 
content to remain as a commonplace thor- 
oughfare, with nothing of interest about it 
but the memory of its better days. In this 
it does not differ from many a more famous 
street, whose changing fortunes have left 
it famous only in name. 

The Story of the 
Old Shipmasters of Salem 


The Early Commerce of Salem — Marine Society — East India Museum 
and Peabody Academy of Science — Tlie Old By-Laws — Educa- 
tional Advantages Offered. 

AS early as 1750, Salem was the principal 

seaport in the Massachusetts Colony 

for successfully carrying on the East India 

trade. As a port, Boston was at that time of 

small importance as compared with Salem. 

That the men who commanded the ships 
of that day represented a sturdy manhood 
and were possessed of unflagging energy, 
indomitable will, and undaunted courage, is 
patent to every one who has examined into 
their history, antecedents, and the events 

2 The Old Shipmasters 

connected with their lives. They sailed on 
every sea from the frigid to the torrid zones, 
and experienced all the vicissitudes incident 
to a seafaring life. Some of these captains 
commanded ships when they had barely at- 
tained their majority. Such a one was 
George Cabot — an ancestor of Henry Cabot 
Lodge — who was subsequently a member 
of the Provincial Congress, and later a 
United States Senator. 

In Salem great interest was early shown 
in everything pertaining to the sea, and as 
a natural outcome the Salem Marine Society 
was formed. The petition to the General 
Court for its incorporation was presented by 
Jonathan Gardner and others, and the prayer 
of the petitioners was granted in 1 772. The 
first article of the by-laws reads as follows: 

"The members of this society shall con- 
sist of persons who now are or have been 
masters or commanders of vessels; and also 
of persons who now are or have been own- 
ers of vessels; provided, that no person shall 
be admitted as a member who has been 
eligible more than seven years, or is more 

Of Salem 3 

than forty years of age, except by a vote at 
a yearly meeting." 

The object of the society was "to improve 
the knowledge of this coast by the several 
members upon their arrival from sea, com- 
municating their observations, inwards and 
outwards, of the variation of the needle, 
soundings, courses, and distances, and all 
other remarkable things about it in writing; 
for the making of navigation more safe, and 
also to relieve one another and their families 
in poverty or other adverse accidents of life, 
which they are more particularly liable to, 
and have for this end raised a common 

Captain Perkins, of Topsfield, of whom 
more will be said, presented to the society 
the Franklin Building and the lot upon which 
it stood. It was demolished some fifty years 
ago and in its place an imposing structure was 
erected, which is to-day very valuable prop- 
erty. In this building the society have 
reserved rooms for their own occupancy, 
where the living members meet and keep 
their possessions. Captain William B. Bate^ 

4 The Old Shipmasters 

was for many years secretary of the society 
and custodian of the historical collections. 
Within the rooms are many interesting re- 
minders of the past. 

The East India Museum was founded in 
1797. The membership of this society was 
restricted "to persons who have actively 
navigated the seas beyond the Cape of Good 
Hope or Cape Horn." Its primary objects 
were "to assist the widows and children of 
deceased members, to collect such facts and 
material as will tend to the improvement 
and security of navigation, and to establish 
a museum of curiosities of maritime interest 
and importance." The collections of rare 
articles were first deposited in the building 
on the corner of Essex and Washington 
streets; subsequently they were removed 
to the Salem Bank building, and, in 1825, 
to the East India Museum Hall, built espe- 
cially for the society. In 1867 the building 
was sold to the Peabody Academy of Sci- 
ence. Although the shipmasters no longer 
conduct the Museum or make nautical ob- 
servations, the charitable objects of the 

Of Salem 5 

society are fully carried out, as there is a 
large fund, the income of which is expended 
for that purpose. 

The Peabody Academy of Science was 
organized in 1868, having received funds by 
gift from George Peabody of London, a na- 
tive of Essex County, for the "promotion 
of science and useful knowledge in the 
county of Essex." 

The Museum now connected with the 
above corporation, besides exhibiting the 
many curiosities to be found there, serves 
an educational purpose as well — it being a 
place to which the teachers of Essex County 
have access for the better qualifying of them- 
selves for the important task of imparting 
knowledge to their pupils. 

Some of the departments contain collec- 
tions of animals, insects, minerals, prehis- 
toric relics, plants, etc. These have all been 
catalogued, labeled, and systematically ar- 
ranged. In the collections from foreign 
countries may be seen implements of war 
and utensils for domestic use, different spe- 
cimens of art, statuary, pictures, marine 

6 The Old Shipmasters of Salem 

architecture, and other articles too numer- 
ous to mention. Many of these precious 
objects and mementos of departed days are 
still the property of the old Marine Society 

The Academy has at different times ex- 
tended its usefulness by holding a summer 
school of biology. It also supports a course 
of lectures each year on natural history. 
Academy Hall, opened in 1886, is both neat 
and attractive. The number of visitors to 
the Museum during the past ten years has 
averaged annually about fifty thousand. 


Glimpses of the Old Mariners — More of the By-Laws — Founders of the 
Marine Society — Grand Turk the First Salem Ship to Visit the 
East Indies — Importance of the Foreign Trade in 1790 — How 
the Mate Got " Square " with the Captain — Captain Throws the 
Pilot Overboard. 

HTHE Master Mariners' characters, habits, 
* with all those qualities which go to 
make up a well-rounded life, were largely 
formed by the discipline and experiences of 
an ocean life, and while they were battling 
with adverse elements, they were also 
studying into the intricacies of logarithms 
and mathematical calculations, mapping out 
their course on a chart, and, not the least of 
all, disposing of their cargoes — if not con- 
signed — and purchasing merchandise for 
home shipment. Their varied duties gave 
them larger business ideas than were usu- 
ally gained in the counting-room. Doubt- 
less at times they were autocratic and lofty 

8 The Old Shipmasters 

in their bearing, but way down beneath the 
surface a warm spot could always be found 
by those with whom they came in contact, 
and a kindly feeling often bubbled up as 
naturally and spontaneously as the waters 
from a crystal spring. Their apparent re- 
serve was developed by enforced seclusion 
from the outer world, and by incessant 
communing with their own thoughts. They 
were not unappreciative, however, of ser- 
vice rendered, nor were they insensible to 
the delights of social life. They could spin 
yarns by the yard, or crack jokes when 
occasion required, with the greatest gusto 
imaginable. That they rendered important 
service in their day and generation, not only 
commercially, but in the War of the Revolu- 
tion and that of 1812, cannot be denied. 
They had correct business habits, hence 
their transactions rarely resulted in litiga- 
tion. As an illustration of their manner of 
doing things, it is interesting to refer to the 
following article in the by-laws of the 
Marine Society: 
"To provide for the relief of any mem- 

Of Salem 9 

bers or their widows, who may be reduced 
by misfortune; and also for the investment 
of the money of the society in no other 
manner than in bond with collateral security 
of land, under a good title and without in- 
cumbrance, and at least double the value 
of the sum let; as near Salem as may be, 
and lying within the province." 

Judging from another by-law, the Mari- 
ners evidently considered card-playing and 
swearing to be mischievous and dangerous 

"That no member of the society shall at 
the monthly meetings play or promote the 
playing of cards, dice or other gaming what- 
soever, as it is probable the same may be 
of damage to themselves or some others of 
the society. That if any member of this 
society be guilty of profane swearing or 
cursing, or non-attendance of the monthly 
meetings, he shall for each of said offences 
pay to the box one shilling." 

Another article refers to individual mem- 
bers "quarreling and disputing with one 
another," and provision is made for the 

lo The Old Shipmasters 

"reference of such disputes to the society, 
in order that they be decided with more 
equity and much less cost." The inference 
is that courts and lawyers were held in 
wholesome dread by the Master Mariners, 
and yet the records show that they were 
not backward in consulting proper legal ad- 
vice when they could not otherwise settle 

The early meetings of the society were 
held at the houses of the members, that of 
Captain Jonathan Webb being frequently 
spoken of in the reports of meetings. In 
1790, the society "voted to meet hereaftef 
at the house of Samuel Robinson," inn- 
holder, and in 1793 "in General Abbot's 
long room." In 1807, a hall was rented, but 
in 1 8 14 the Essex Coffee-House became their 
meeting-place and continued to be for some 

During the Revolutionary period, the so- 
ciety lapsed into a state of inactivity, as was 
natural, for nearly all its members were 
engaged in the war. When peace came, 
however, the by-laws were amended by 

Of Salem 1 1 

Congressman Benjamin Goodhue, and large 
numbers joined, so that in 1800 the mem- 
bership reached two hundred and twenty- 
five. The society has always been patriotic. 
One hundred and two of Its members served 
in the Revolutionary War, forty-eight in the 
War of 1812, six in both the wars named, 
and four in these wars and also in the naval 
war with France. Nearly all the members 
who entered the wars served either as com- 
manders or in other official capacities. They 
were marked men wherever they went, and 
always commanded respect. 

Among the founders of the Marine Society 
were Habakkuk and Dr. Nathaniel Bowditch 
(father and son); George Cabot, the close 
friend of Washington and of Hamilton; 
George and Jacob Crowninshield, the 
renowned merchants; Daniel Hawthorne; 
Joseph Lee, who liberally endowed the 
McLean Asylum, and who was the modeler 
of the Caravan, the vessel that took the 
first missionaries to India; William Gray, 
who served as Lieutenant-Governor of 
Massachusetts; William Orne, one of the 

12 The Old Shipmasters 

noted philanthropists of his time; and many 
others who have left their impress on the 
early history of the country. 

The Grand Turk, commanded by Eben 
West, was the first ship from New England 
to visit the Isle of France, India, and China, 
She cleared from Salem, November 25, 1785, 
and returned in June, 1787, with a cargo 
of tea, silks, and nankeens, having made 
a most prosperous voyage. More tea was 
landed in Salem that year than in any sub- 
sequent year. Of fifteen vessels in Canton 
in 1789, five of them hailed from Salem, and 
ail but one belonged to Elias Basket Derby. 

The brig William and Henry, Captain 
Benjamin Hodges, owned by Gray & Orne, 
arrived in Salem in 1790 with a cargo of 
tea, which was among the first of such 
cargoes imported in an American vessel. 
Seventy-three ships, eleven barks, and forty- 
eight brigs sailed from Salem in 1806, all 
engaged in the foreign trade. In 1807, about 
the same tonnage was represented in the 
same trade. IVlany of these vessels were 
built in Salem. 

of Salem 13 

To give an idea of the commercial im- 
portance of Salem, we must refer to the 
amount collected in imposts for the United 
States Government from 1789 to 1870, 
which foots up to 125,000,000. From 1 801 to 
1 8 10, inclusive, the duties collected amounted 
to 17,272,633.31. In 1825 and 1826, a little 
brig of 223 tons (the Leander) landed 
cargoes from Canton, which paid duties 
amounting respectively to $86,847.47 and 
$92,392.94. A ship of 287 tons (the Suma- 
tra, Captain Charles Roundy), in 1829, 1830, 
and 183 1, brought cargoes from Canton to 
Salem, paying duties as follows: in the first 
case, $128,363.13; in the second, $138,- 
480.34; and in the third, $140,761.96— the 
five voyages paying to the Government 
the grand total of nearly $587,000 ! These 
vessels were owned by the late Joseph 
Peabody, an eminent merchant, who for 
many years did a thriving business in the 
foreign trade. The tide of commerce, how- 
ever, finally turned in another direction, and 
yet the coasting trade was small during the 
early history of Salem as compared with 

H The Old Shipmasters 

that of to-day. The custom-house, as has 
been well said by a gentleman conversant 
with the old-time maritime industry, ''is 
no longer the depository of invoices of the 
rich and varied products of the East, and 
the name of the surveyor has ceased to be 
sent abroad marked on bales of merchan- 
dise, as Hawthorne once said he smiled to 
think was to be the case with his." 
There were many quaint things said and 

done by the shipmasters. Captain L 

had a first mate who was at times addicted 
to the use of strong drink, and occasionally, 
as the slang saying has it, " got full." The 
ship was lying in a port in China, and the 
mate had been on shore and had there 
indulged rather freely in some of the vile 
compounds common in Chinese ports. He 
came on board, "drunk as a lord," and 
thought he had a mortgage on the 
whole world. The captain, who rarely ever 
touched liquors himself, was greatly dis- 
turbed by the disgraceful conduct of his 
officer, particularly as the crew had all ob- 
served his condition. One of the duties of 

Captain Frederick Johnson, Master of the Ship Restless. 

Of Salem 15 

the first officer is to write up the "log" 
each day, but as that worthy was not able 
to do it, the captain made the proper entry, 
but added: "The mate drunli all day," 
The ship left port the next day and the 
mate got "sobered off." He attended to 
his writing at the proper time, but was ap- 
palled when he saw what the captain had 
done. He went on deck, and soon after the 
following colloquy took place: 

"Cap'n, why did you write in the log 
yesterday that I was drunk all day ?" 

" It was true, was n't it ? " 

" Well, 'lowing 't was, it was a bad thing 
to say about me." 

" It was true, was n't it ? " 

"Yes, but what will the owners say it 
they see it ? 'T will hurt me wfth them." 

But the mate could get nothing more 
from the captain than, "It was true, wasn't 

The next day, when the captain was 
examining the book, he found at the bot- 
tom of the mate's entry of observation, 
course, winds, and tides: "The captain 

i6 The Old Shipmasters 

sober all day." He went on deck in high 
dudgeon, met the mate — who saw that a 
storm was brewing — and then another dia- 
logue took place as follows: 

"What did you mean, you rascal, by 
writing in the log that 1 was ' sober all day,' 
yesterday ? " 

" It was true, was n't it, Cap'n ? " 
' " You know 1 never drink liquors, and am 
always sober, and of course it was true," 

The captain, upon second thought, real- 
ized that the whole thing was a huge joke, 
and his cooler judgment reasserting itself, he 
desisted from further questioning of the mate. 

If there was any one thing the shipmasters 
were distinguished for above everything 
else, it was in assuming a certain degree of 
superiority over the common run of mind 
and matter. They were sovereigns on the 
sea, and why not on the land, was, doubt- 
less, a pertinent query with them. In the 
realm in which their lot w$s cast they 
knew no baffling forces beyond winds and 
tides, hence they did not easily brook oppo- 
sition or defeat. If failings they had, this 

Of Salem 17 

characteristic was one of their greatest faults, 
but, like the character immortalized by 

"Their failings leaned to virtue's side." 

In this connection it may not be inappro- 
priate to relate a brief story of one of the 
captains who was a man of stalwart frame 
and a strict disciplinarian on board his ship. 
He was leaving a port in a tropical sea in 
company with another ship, and it soon be- 
came a trial of speed between the two ves- 
sels. Seeing that his opponent was slightly 
gaining on him, he began to grow uneasy 
lest his ship, which was considered a very 
fast sailer, should get the worse of it. More- 
over, he had not discharged his negro pilot, 
a creature of amphibious tendency, as is 
common with the natives of warm climates. 
The captain was pacing the quarter-deck, 
and it was noticed that he had a sheath 
knife in his hand. Suddenly he sprang to 
the taffrail and cut the painter of the pilot's 
dinghy, and without pausing for a moment 
seized the pilot and threw him overboard. 


Were the Shipmasters Superstitious? — Goat in the Foretop — Both 
"Watches" in Mortal Terror — Story Telling, Witticisms, and 
Practical Jokes — Captain Tucker's " Yarn " — The Haunted Sailor — 
Ghost of his Former Shipmate. 

'T'HE sterling worth of the old captains is 
* not overestimated in these chapters. 
" But they were superstitious," says the as- 
cetic, whose mentality is circumscribed by 
dwarfed ideas of men and things. It is 
doubtless true that they believed in omens 
and prognostics, and possibly had a rever- 
ential dread of the mystic or unknown ; yet 
they were far from being fanatical. It may 
be that they believed in the direct interposi- 
tion of supernatural powers in certain ex- 
traordinary events. It can, however, be 
truthfully said of them that whatever they 
had to accomplish, first and foremost was 
the controlling thought : 

"On reason build resolve, 
That column of true majesty in man." 


The Old Shipmasters of Salem 19 

It is quite true that sea life is not now 
wholly divested of the belief in old-time evil 
omens, and to-day it holds good, as for- 
merly, that if a shark follow a ship for sev- 
eral days it is a sure sign that some one of 
the crew will soon die or other disaster 
follow. Many dark superstitions, however, 
in the light of a broader education, have 
been swept away, on the sea as well as on 
the land. 

The goat in the "foretop" of the ship 
Ringleader will serve to illustrate the belief 
in ghosts by sailors. This story is a true 
one and was told by one who can vouch 
for its authenticity. The Ringleader at the 
time was in command of Captain Richard 
Matthews of Salem. One dark, stormy 
night, all hands were called to shorten sail. 
Orders were given in quick succession to let 
go the topgallant halyards and to clew up 
fore and aft, and to let go the foretopsail 
halyards. The watch on deck sprang into 
the shrouds to furl the foretopgallant-sail, 
but they had only reached the foretop when 
they turned and came down precipitately, 

20 The Old Shipmasters 

some by the halyards on the run. The 
mate asked what the matter was, but 
received nothing more than some incoherent 
mumblings from the sailors about a ghost. 
He ordered them up again, supplemented 
with expletives which no refined society 
would tolerate. 

They would not budge an inch. So the 
other watch was ordered up, but with the 
same result. The mate then thought he 
would go up himself and find out what the 
matter really was. He ascended as far as 
the foretop, as the rest had done, and 
stopped. He also saw a ghost or some 
supernatural object, and was about turn- 
ing to come down, when his ears were 
greeted with a familiar cry. He at once 
fathomed all the trouble ; it was the voice 
of the old billy-goat, a regular passenger and 
the butt of all the fun and pastime on board. 
He had ensconced himself in the coil of the 
foretopsail halyards, and when they were 
let go, he suddenly went up in the coil of 
rope without even a murmur of disapproval, 
and had lodged safely where he was found. 

Of Salem 21 

A rope was quickly bent onto him and he 
was lowered to the deck. It was a narrow 
escape for Mr. Capricorn. On the same 
voyage, the Ringleader, while butting into a 
heavy cross-sea, "scooped in" over her 
bows a shark, which was brought home and 
can now be seen in the Museum. • 

Story - telling, witticisms, and practical 
jokes were not infrequently enjoyed by the 
Master Mariners. In 18 — , a Salem ship was 
in the harbor of Batavia waiting for a cargo, 
and as time was hanging heavily on the 

hands of her master. Captain L , he 

visited a place of amusement one evening by 
way of diversion, and there met with an 
astute French captain, whose egotism and 
national pride knew no bounds. He fre- 
quently drifted off into the Munchausen in 
his glorification of his native land, and the 
city of Paris in particular, portraying, as 
with the brush of an artist, the beautiful 
parks and public squares of that city. 

"That is nothing compared with my na- 
tive city, Salem," blurted out Captain L . 

"We have a 'Common' encircled by a 

22 The Old Shipmasters 

double row of trees one hundred and fifty 
feet in height and ten feet through their 
trunks. Tropical flowers bloom the year 
round in this magnificent inclosure. I saw 
a man take a ladder one day and go to the' 
center of the Common, and what do you 
suppose he did ? " 
" Me no tell, monsieur. Me ask you." 
"Well, he raised the ladder up to a per- 
pendicular position, and then went to the 
top of it," replied the captain. 

" Ah ! oh ! my ! vat more duz him do ? " 
" He pulled the ladder up after him, and 
then went to the top again." 

At this last remark from the captain the 
Frenchman subsided and appeared to be in 
a meditative state of mind; and it was not 
known for a certainty whether he took ex- 
ception to the captain's statements, or was 
really trying to figure out mentally the spe- 
cific gravity and staying qualities of the 
man, ladder, and surrounding atmosphere. 

Captain Tucker was, to outward appear- 
ance, a rough-cast man, but beneath his old 
pea-jacket — which was rarely thrown off for 

Of Salem 23 

a finer coat— a truer heart never beat. In a 
word, he was careless about his personal 
appearance. Being in Bombay, the port to 
which his cargo was consigned, he met two 
Salem captains, one of whom remarked: 
" Captain Tucker, why don't you spruce up 
a little when you come ashore ? " 

"What's the use? Nobody knows me 
here," was the rejoinder. 

Somewhat over a year afterwards the 
same captains met Captain Tucker on Essex 
Street, Salem, on his arrival from a voyage, 
and the former remark: "Why don't you 
spruce up when in port ? " was addressed 
to him. 

" Everybody knows me here, and what 's 
the use dressing up ? " was the prompt reply. 

The captain's friends saw that he was in- 
corrigible, and they ever after refrained from 
remarking on his personal appearance. 

Some of those who had commanded ships, 
after quitting the sea, settled down upon 
small farms in the suburbs of Salem, and 
their chief delight and occupation was in 
visiting the village grocery, where they often 

24 The Old Shipmasters 

spun their yarns to the wonderment of the 
country folk. They told of ghosts, of pi- 
rates, of storms and of shipwreck, and of 
many other perils of the sea. One evening 

Captain T launched forth with some of 

his experiences. Said he: "I touched at 
Patagonia on one of my voyages, and 1 ever 
after gave that latitude a wide berth. In a 
few minutes after we had dropped anchor 
our deck was alive with Patagonians, and I 
tell you they were strapping fellows — about 
eight feet high. They walked around as 
independently as though they owned my 
ship, even to the last gang-plank. They 
were chewing tobacco, and, I dare say, each 
one had half a pound of the weed in his 
mouth. But this was not the worst of it. 
They spit upon my deck, which had been 
holystoned as white as snow, and every 
time they let fly the filthy liquid it made a 
spot as big as the top of that stove " (point- 
ing to one about two feet across the top). 

" Did you say anything ? " interposed an 
old farmer. 

What the d 1 could 1 say under the 


Of Salem 25 

circumstances ? They were a wicked look- 
ing set and had but one eye, and that was 
in the center of their forehead." 

" Guess they could n't wear ' specks ' very 
wpll," interposed an incredulous matter-of- 
fact man, who sat upon a flour barrel drum- 
ming the sides with his heels. This remark 
rather started the captain's ire, who said: 
" I wish you 'd been there and seen their 
piercing eye, you would n't talk about 
' specks ' ! You 'd have been scared clear 
to your toes and jumped overboard, 1 dare 

The captain's stories were not all extrava- 
ganzas. But, granting that they were, they 
served a purpose, and usually were nothing 
more than simple raillery to "take out the 
conceit" of some presumptuous "land- 

Speaking again of ghosts, an old sailor re- 
cently told the following story, the facts of 
which came under his personal observation. 
Tom — for by this name he will be desig- 
nated — sailed from Salem for Sumatra in 
1838, in the ship Sumatra, Captain Peter 

26 The Old Shipmasters 

Silver being in command. Among the crew 
was a strange, eccentric fellow whom no- 
body could fathom, for the reason that he 
appeared to be at all times beyond " sound- 
ings." He was reticent and manifested a 
morbid condition of mind, and never entered 
into that jollity which at times obtains on 
shipboard, even under stress of weather, or 
a short allowance of "grub." Another 
peculiarity of Jack Breton was his desire 
to have some one in his company. He 
never would, if he could possibly help it, 
remain on any part of the deck or in the 
rigging alone at night. If the order were 
given to "lay aloft" in the night to make 
or shorten sail, he, invariably, was the last 
one to leave the deck. 

While the ship was lying in the port of 
Callao, on the voyage in question, an "an- 
chor watch " was set and Tom had occasion 
to call Jack to relieve him. Neither en- 
treaties nor threats could induce him to go 
on deck until the mate had helped him along 
with the toe of his boot. Jack was in a tre- 
mor of fright and his condition induced Tom 

Nathaniel Hawthorne. 

Born July 47 1804. Died May ig, 1864. Surveyor of Port of 

Salem (1846-1849). 

From a photograph by Brady. 

Of Salem 27 

to remain with him, but he gave no reason 
for his strange conduct. 

Going on shore the next day, Tom in his 
rambles fell in with some men-of-war's men 
from an American frigate lying in port. One 
thing led to another, and in some way Tom 
incidentally alluded to Jack Breton, his ec- 
centricities, etc. One of the party, an in- 
telligent fellow, after reflecting a moment, 
said that he thought he knew Breton, and 
he felt almost sure that he could give his 
history, which might account for the man's 

"It was twenty odd years ago," began 
the man-of-war's man, "that a boy named 
Jack Breton sailed with me in an American 
man-of-war. He was idolized by the crew, 
and one man in particular named Crozier 
was the boy's constant companion. For 
'Jacky,' as he used to call him, he would, 
with his needle, make fancy stitching on his 
shirt collars, work ' Turk's heads,' and teach 
him how to tie fancy knots. His life seemed 
to be bound up in that of the boy. 

" It was in this very port," continued the 

28 The Old Shipmasters 

narrator, " that a crime was committed 
which probably made Breton, if I am right 
in the man, what you represent him to be. 
Crozier and a shipmate got liberty to go on 
shore, which privilege they availed them- 
selves of, taking Jack, the boy, with them. 
I remained, with others of the crew, on 
board. The next morning the port was all 
astir with the report that an American sailor 
had been murdered the previous night, but, 
as a matter of course, the crime was laid to 
some desperado of the native population. 

"Crozier and his companions not having 
reported on shipboard, an officer from the 
frigate went on shore to see if he could find 
any trace of them. About noon he came 
across Crozier, but there was a wildness in 
his eyes and something in his demeanor 
which puzzled the officer. He could get 
nothing definite from him as to the where- 
abouts of his two companions. The officer 
returned to the ship with Crozier, and an- 
other officer and several of the crew went 
on shore to search for the lost ones. At 
last it was thought that the sailor reported 

Of Salem 29 

murdered might be the missing seaman. 
On visiting the authorities, all doubts were 
removed. The man was found with his 
skull crushed. But where was the boy? 
He was found two days after concealed in a 
warehouse on the wharf No information 
about the murder could be elicited from 
him, and when taken to the ship he cried 
bitterly. To make a long story short, a 
confession, through threats of punishment, 
was extorted from him. His story was that 
Crozier and his shipmate got into a drunken 
quarrel, when the first-named struck him 
on the head with a stone. The boy tried 
in every way to shield Crozier, and there is 
no doubt that the latter did not know, in 
his drunken obliviousness, that he had killed 
his shipmate. A court-martial was con- 
vened, and Crozier was sentenced to be 
hanged at the yard-arm. As he passed by 
the boy, on his way to execution, he said 
to him: 

" 'You have sworn my life away, and I 
will never leave you as long as you live ! ' " 

Tom parted with his new-made friend. 

30 The Old Shipmasters of Salem 

who had related the strange tale, and who 
promised to visit the Sumatra the following 
morning to see if the Breton he had once 
known and the one on board were one and 
the same. When he came on deck, almost 
the first man he saw was Breton, and turn- 
ing to Tom he said in a whisper: 

"That's the man!" 

Breton tried to avoid his old shipmate, 
but when he found that he was recognized 
he talked freely over old times, and informed 
him how true Crozier had been to his word, 
declaring that he could not be alone for a 
moment without seeing him, and that he 
always appeared in a defiant, threatening 


The Manifold Mysteries of the Sea — Story of Captain Frederick Johnson, 
about the Man who Left the Ship Restless on a Raft in the Night — 
News of the Death of Washington Received — The Shipmasters 
Prominent in the Funeral Procession. 

'T'HE verities of life to those who "go 
* down to the sea in ships " establish the 
fact that there is hardly anything connected 
with the "wild waste of waters" too ex- 
travagant or too absurd to believe. Captain 
John S. Sleeper's old-time Tales of the 
Ocean may appear to some as extrava- 
ganzas, yet those stories of adventure re- 
flect in every syllable and word the spirit of 
truth. There is always a fascination about 
the ocean and its deep, unfathomable mys- 
teries ; therefore, it is not strange that many 
dreamers, as they sit by their own quiet fire- 
sides and pbre over the stories of those who 
have battled with wind and wave, become 
infatuated with the desire to leave home and 


32 The Old Shipmasters 

friends to brave the hardships and dangers 
so inseparably connected with a seafaring 
life. To them the ocean loses none of its 
charms, although they may read from day 
to day of storm and disaster upon its broad 
bosom, and have a realizing sense of the 
truth embodied in the lines of the poet : 

" He that in venturous barks hath been 
A wanderer on the deep, 
Can tell of many an awful scene 
Where storms forever sweep." 

Notwithstanding all this, air-castles will 
still be built, and the spirit of adventure con- 
tinue to animate the human mind. In con- 
nection with this line of thought. Captain 
Frederick Johnson once related a story con- 
cerning one of his voyages to China in 
the ship Restless. On the outward voyage 
the ship touched at the Isle of France. 
The days went by and nothing of unusual 
interest occurred until the Java coast came 
in view. The usual story-telling and sing- 
ing took place of an evening among the 
sailors as they were seated upon boxes or 
sea-chests in the forecastle. Among the 

Of Salem 33 

number was a good-looking young English 
sailor who entertained those about him on 
the evening in question with a picture of 
the easy life one could lead by ingratiating 
himself into the good graces of some tribal 
chief on shore and marrying his daughter. 
The rough treadmill life he and his associates 
were leading was given due attention. He 
seemed to long for change, but he doubtless 
little dreamed of those 

" Fierce extremes, extremes by change more fierce," 

as his thoughts strayed out to the dimly 
outlined land which appeared like an island 
in that distant summer sea on which he 
sailed. After the watch below had joined 
in the song "Rocked in the Cradle of the 
Deep," all "turned in" to dream of home 
and the loved ones there. At midnight, the 
Englishman, with others, relieved the watch 
on deck. It was a clear still night, with 
scarcely a breath of wind, and no sound was 
heard, save that produced by the sails as 
they lazily flapped to and fro, and the dull 
monotone of the ropes running back and 

34 The Old Shipmasters 

forth in the blocks. It was a night in which 
dreamers give up to dreams and build 

The red streaks of morning were at last 
painted on the eastern sky, the watch be- 
low had been called, but where was Ben- 
son, the English sailor? The man at the 
wheel, it was also learned, had not been 
relieved by him. Search was at once insti- 
tuted, but no trace of him could be found 
anywhere on the ship. The mate sharply 
questioned the watch, thinking that vio- 
lence had been used in connection with the 
sudden disappearance of Benson. Every 
nook and corner of the ship, both above 
and below, was searched, but without sat- 
isfactory result. One sailor went into the 
forecastle to renew investigations, and upon 
opening the chest of the missing man found 
that his best clothing and some books were 
gone. This was a clue. He reported his 
discovery to the captain. Another said that 
Benson must be aloft, but the thought, 
doubtless, did not occur to him as to what 
he (Benson) could possibly want of his 

Of Salem 35 

books there. He was not satisfied, how- 
ever, until he had gone up to the fore- and 
main-tops and made thorough search. 

At this juncture the ship's carpenter made 
his appearance and reported that two of his 
heavy planks and several joists which he 
had taken from the hold to the deck for 
repairs on the previous day were missing. 
Here was another and more promising clue, 
by which the great mystery was to be un- 
raveled. It was now definitely settled that 
the man had constructed a raft in his watch 
and had noiselessly lowered it over the side 
of the ship and made good his escape. 
This theory was substantiated by pieces of 
rope which were found near the location 
of the missing plank. 

The foolhardy embarkation of Benson on 
the wide ocean with but a few planks be- 
tween himself and death seemed appalling 
to his shipmates. Conjectures as to what 
prompted the venture were rife. His for- 
mer associates on shipboard held various 
and conflicting .views. One said that Ben- 
son was "gone on a woman " in the Isle of 

36 The Old Shipmasters 

France, and that he had escaped from the 
ship hoping to find passage back to the ob- 
ject of his adoration. Another averred that 
the reading of fictitious works had turned 
his head and made him crazy. The third 
" spokesman " advanced, apparently, a more 
reasonable theory, and that was, that he 
had gone to seek his fortune and a life of 
ease among the natives on shore, and cited, 
to strengthen his point, the missing man's 
desire to marry some chieftain's daughter, 
and thus rise to fame and importance, ' The 
captain was unwilling to proceed on his 
voyage until all hope of finding his missing 
seaman was gone, hence he ran "off and 
on" during the entire forenoon, before he 
gave orders to square and brace up the 
yards, and make sail for his destined port. 

About six months after the incident re- 
lated above, the Restless, on her return voy- 
age, made the port of Sumatra, to see if any 
tidings of Benson had been found. From 
the American Consul it was learned that 
a man bearing his description, but who 
gave his name as Brown, had been found 

Of Salem 37 

soon after Benson's disappearance from the 
ship by some boatmen at a point along 
the coast. He was entirely stripped of his 
clothing, and was in a nearly starving condi- 
tion. He said that he was a castaway sailor, 
and related his experience with the natives. 
Preparations were being made to kill him 
when he made his escape. As noAmerican 
vessel was in port at the time, the consul 
had sent Benson to Holland in a Dutch 

The experiences of those who follow the 
sea for a livelihood are many and varied, 
as has been said. Meeting with Captain 
George Upton one day, he soon drifted off 
into story-telling. " There was one little in- 
cident," said he, "which happened on one 
of my voyages which somewhat amused 
me, being, as it was, an illustration of the 
prying curiosity of English shipmasters." 
The captain continued: 

" Many years ago (1838), when I was in 
command of the bark Chalcedofiy, while 
passing from the N. E. to the S. E. trade 
winds in north latitude near the equator 

38 The Old Shipmasters 

— a track of ocean known to navigators as 
the 'doldrums,' — we were flying a kite 
from the mizzenmast-head, for the amuse- 
ment of some children who were pas- 
sengers. While they were enjoying this 
diversion, we fell in with an English ship. 
They sent a boat on board in charge of the 
first mate, apparently for some special pur- 
pose, but what it was did not at first appear. 
The officer in charge asked me if we could 
spare him some tobacco, which was sup- 
plied him. His movements, with a frequent 
glance aloft, convinced us that the ' to- 
bacco ' was not the object of his visit. After 
a little hesitation he addressed himself to me 
with an inquiry about the kite flying over 
our stern, saying: ' Will you please tell me 
the object or use of that ? ' I informed him 
that it was flying to please the children. 
' Thank you,' said he; ' our captain sent me 
on board to ascertain its use, thinking it 
was some contrivance to get the longitude, 
you Americans are so full of inventions.' " 

Salem was deeply stirred on receipt of 
the news of the death of Washington. A 






Of Salem 39 

public meeting was held and an address 
sent to the " respectable Marine Society of 
the town of Salem," with the request that 
they would concur and unite with the 
citizens in some public demonstration. 
The address closed with the significant 
words: "The concurrence and assistance 
of the Marine Society are peculiarly requi- 
site on this occasion." The address was 
signed by John Page, John Punshard, and 
Jonathan Waldo of the Military Society. 

The first intelligence of Washington's 
death was brought by a passenger on the 
stage from New York, and was received in 
Salem on Monday evening, December 23d. 
The next day, by order of the selectmen, 
the bells were tolled at sunrise, the shipping 
displayed their colors at half-mast, minute- 
guns were fired on the Common by a 
detachment of artillery, and business was 
generally suspended. The pupils of Mrs. 
Rogers, a celebrated teacher, wore a badge 
of mourning presented by her, consisting 
of a rosette and bracelet with the initials, 
" G. W.," in a circle with a heart appended. 

40 The Old Shipmasters 

A town meeting was held on Monday, 
December 30, at which it was voted to 
"adopt suitable measures to testify our 
deep sorrow for the loss the community has 
sustained by the death of General Wash- 
ington." It was also voted: 

"That the town will erect an handsome 
and durable monument to the memory of 
General Washington, and that the commit- 
tee before named be directed to ascertain 
the expense necessary for this purpose." 

The funeral honors were paid on Thurs- 
day, January 2, 1800, by a public procession 
formed as follows: The town officers, the 
Marine Society, the clergy of the town, 
with the orator, Rev. Dr. Bentley; the 
Independent Company of Cadets, Abel 
Lawrence, commander, acting as escort. 
The procession moved through several 
streets to the North Meeting-house, which 
then stood on the corner of North and 
Lynde streets, where the Rev. Mr. Barnard 
"addressed the Almighty in a suitable, 
pathetic, and affecting prayer, and the Rev. 
Dr. Bentley pronounced an elegant and 

Of Salem 4^ 

classical eulogy." During the moving of 
the procession minute-guns were fired by a 
detachment of Captain Gould's artillery. 

The Marine Society, as stated by a news- 
paper writer of that day, was a very con- 
spicuous feature in the funeral procession. 
And a subsequent writer adds, in noting 
the occasion: " Those shipmasters of the old 
school were a sturdy race, faithful and fear- 
less, and their stalwart forms and rolling 
gait and weather-beaten countenances — 
with the remembrance of their experiences — 
could not fail to make a sensation, even in 
those days when such sights and reminis- 
cences were as familiar as household words. 
Many of them had been distinguished naval 
heroes in the War of the Revolution, and all 
were of a type and mold now nearly 
obliterated by the changes and triumphs of 
the advancing years. A daguerreotype 
view of the society as it appeared on that 
day would now be a treasure well worth 
preserving, but Daguerre was then a school- 
boy and his valuable art was all unknown.'' 

Thirteen years later the Marine Society 

42 The Old Shipmasters of Salem 

again appeared in a public procession, at the 
funeral of the commander and lieutenant of 
Vat Chesapeake, killed in the fight with the 
Shannon, of which an account is given in 
another chapter. 


The Codfish a Potent Factor in the Early Commerce — Importance of 
Salem, Commercially, as Compared with Boston — Some of the 
Prominent Merchants — Captain Thomas Perkins's Munificent Gift 
—Where the Old Captains Meet. 

C ALEM began a trade with the West India 
^ Islands in 1670, and with the Leeward 
Islands somewhat earlier. The staple ex- 
port was dried codfish, the vessels returning 
with cargoes of sugar, molasses, etc. Fish 
were very plentiful in Massachusetts Bay in 
"ye early times" ; in fact, Salem's harbor 
and rivers swarmed with them, and it is 
hardly possible to doubt that dried codfish 
first gave Salem her maritime importance. 

Trading with the West Indies first gave 
the early settlers an idea of the advantages 
to be derived from commerce. They saw 
that the exchanging of their products for 
those of other nations was an industry upon 


44 The Old Shipmasters 

which would eventually hinge the growth 
and development, not only of their own 
immediate communities, but of the whole 
country. Yes, it was the codfish that 
played an important part in promoting the 
growth of Salem, and not only Salem, but 
every seaboard town and city in New Eng- 
land! Is it, then, a matter of wonder that 
an effigy of that fish is suspended in a con- 
spicuous place in the Massachusetts House 
of Representatives ? One of the wealthiest 
of Salem's old-time merchants — Benjamin 
Pickman— had such an affection and affinity 
— no pun meant — for the cod, in remem- 
brance, it is presumed, of what that fish 
had been to him in the accumulation of his 
riches, that he caused to be painted on the 
sides of the stairs in the front hall of his 
house exact representations of it. This 
house was built in 1750, after the old Colo- 
nial style, and it stands to-day in the rear 
of a store on Essex Street, near the East 
India Museum building. 

The importance of Salem about the begin- 
ning of the last century, and for years after, 

Of Salem 45 

was such as to give the Indies and other 
distant countries the impression that it was 
the largest port of the United States. It is 
related as a fact that one of the native mer- 
chants of Calcutta had a map suspended on 
the walls of his office upon which were 
only two names, Salem and Boston, and 
that the word Salem stretched nearly across 
the map, while Boston was designated by a 
mere dot. 

From the close of the Revolutionary War 
to the embargo preceding the War of 1812, 
the commercial prosperity of Salem was at 
its height. The three most prominent mer- 
chants of that period were Elias Hasket 
Derby, William Gray, and Joseph Peabody. 
The larger part of the shipping of Salem 
was in their possession, their ships were 
found on almost every sea, and cargoes from 
distant climes found a port of entry at Sa- 
lem. As has been well said: " They " — the 
shipmasters and merchants — "made the 
name of Salem familiar wherever trade 
penetrated or civilization ventured." 

Captain Reynolds, who made a tour round 

46 The Old Shipmasters 

the world in the United States ship Potomac, 
writing of Salem in 1835, says: 

"When peace arrived and our inde- 
pendence was acknowledged, the merchants 
of Salem were among the first to explore 
new channels of trade, disdaining to con- 
fine themselves to the narrow track of a 
Colonial commerce. With a few errone- 
ous maps and charts, a sextant, and Guth- 
rie's Grammar, they swept round the Cape 
of Good Hope, exhausted the markets of 
the isles of France and Bourbon, and, push- 
ing onward, entered the Straits of Babel- 
mandeb and secured the trade of the Red 
Sea. They brought from Madras, Calcutta, 
and Bombay the best of their staples, and 
had their choice of the products of Ceylon 
and Sumatra." 

The enterprise, keen sense of right, and 
honor of the old merchant princes suggest 
the truth and application of that maxim of 

' ' I hold every man a debtor to his profes- 
sion, from the which as men of course do 
seek to receive countenance and profit, so 

Of Salem 47 

ought they of duty to endeavor themselves 
by way of amends to be a help and orna- 
ment thereunto." 

They were not only an ornament to their 
profession or calling, but were ever mindful 
of the multifarious duties imposed upon 
them, and kept their honor bright by a faith- 
ful discharge of the same. 

Captain Philip English was among the 
early and more prominent shipmasters and 
merchants of Salem. Captain English was 
born in the Isle of Jersey, and came to Salem 
about the year 1670, and in 1675 he married 
the daughter of William Hollingworth, a 
Salem merchant. He soon entered com- 
mercial pursuits, and prospered to such an 
extent that he built the grandest house in all 
Salem. His wife was over-elated by their 
prosperity and forgot her humble friends of 
former days; she was called "aristocratic," 
and the prejudice thus engendered against 
her doubtless led to her being "cried out 
against" for witchcraft. Both Mr. English 
and his wife were thus accused. From 1 694 
to 1720, Mr. English sent vessels to New- 

48 The Old Shipmasters 

foundland, Cape Sable, or Acadia to catch 
fish, and shipped the products of this enter- 
prise to Barbadoes, Surinam, Spain, and 
other countries. Captain Richard Derby, 
soon after the retirement of Mr. English, 
became a shipmaster, trading with Cadiz, 
Malaga, and other foreign ports. He sub- 
sequently settled down as a merchant. 

Dr. Edward A. Holyoke, writing of the 
commerce of Salem in 1749, says: "The 
commerce of this town was chiefly with 
Spain and Portugal and the West Indies, 
especially with Eustatia. The schooners 
were employed on the fishing banks in the 
summer, and in the autumn were ladened 
with fish, rum, molasses, and the produce 
of the country, and sent to Virginia and 
Maryland, and there spent the winter retail- 
ing their cargoes, and in return brought 
corn and wheat and tobacco." 

Elias Hasket Derby in 1775 cast in his lot 
with the Colonists and fitted out many pri- 
vateers. Later on Mr. Derby was prosper- 
ous and accumulated a large property — 
nearly a million dollars — in his maritime 

Elias Hasket Derby (1739-1799). 

One of his ships {Grand Turk) in the distance. He was a pioneer in the 

East India trade, and at the time of his death was reputed to 

be the richest man in the United States. 

Of Salem 49 

ventures. The ship Grand Turk in 1784 
made the first voyage to the Cape of Good 
Hope. She was in command of Captain 
Jonathan Ingersoll. 

William Gray flourished during the later 
years of Mr. Derby's business career. He 
was born in Lynn in 1760, but removed to 
Salem at an early age. In 1805 he was 
probably the largest shipowner in the coun- 
try and traded extensively with Canton and 
ports in India. Salem had at this time in 
active service fifty-four ships, eighteen barks, 
seventy-two brigs, and eighty-six schoon- 
ers, five ships building, and forty-eight ves- 
sels " round the cape." 

Captain Joseph Peabody was a success- 
ful shipmaster and merchant. He was born 
in Middleton in 1757. He sailed in E. H. 
Derby's Bunker Hill, which vessel did ser- 
vice as a privateer in the Revolutionary War. 
In 1782 he made atrip to Alexandria, and on 
his return the vessel was attacked by the 
enemy and he was wounded. After peace 
was restored, he was promoted to a com- 
mand in one of the vessels of the Messrs. 

50 The Old Shipmasters 

Gardner, and soon realized a sufficient sum 
to purchase the vessel known as the Three 
Friends. His vessels made thirty-eight voy- 
ages to Calcutta, seventeen to Canton, 
thirty-two to Sumatra, forty-seven to St. 
Petersburg, and thirty to other foreign ports. 
It is said that he shipped at different times 
seven thousand seamen and advanced thirty- 
five to rank of master who had entered his 
employ as boys. 

Captain John Bertram, of later date, was, 
perhaps, second to no one as a shipmaster 
and merchant. He was a shrewd but square- 
dealing man, and always was on the qui 
vive to get the best end of the bargain. In 
1824, he, with others, chartered the schooner 
General Brewer, and, in company with Cap- 
tain W. B. Smith, sailed for St. Helena, 
When a few days out, he met the brig 
Eli:(abeth, of Salem, Story, master, also 
bound for St. Helena. Captain Story came 
on board the General Brewer and took tea 
with Captain Bertram. Each was desirous 
that the other should not know his destina- 
tion. They announced that they were bound 

Of Salem 51 

to Pernambuco. Captain Bertram suspected, 
however, that the Elizabeth was bound to 
St. Helena, and he was extremely anxious 
to arrive there first and dispose of his cargo. 
When night came on, in order to lighten his 
vessel, he threw overboard his entire deck 
load of lumber, and by crowding on all sail, 
day and night, arrived at St. Helena, dis- 
posed of his cargo to good advantage, and 
was sailing out of the harbor just as the 
Eli:(abeth arrived. From St. Helena Cap- 
tain Bertram went to Pernambuco on his 
way to Salem, in order, it may fairly be pre- 
sumed, to keep his word good, as he was 
an "exact man." 

Among the noted merchants were also 
John Turner, George Crowninshield, Edward 
Kitchen, Thomas Lee, Benjamin Pickman, 
Timothy Orne, Joseph Cabot, William Orne, 
Nathaniel West, Pickering Dodge, Joseph 
Lee, Gideon Tucker, Robert Stone, Dudley 
L. Pickman, Jeramael Peirce, Aaron Wait, 
Nathaniel Silsbee, Nathaniel L. Rogers, 
Robert Brookhouse, Robert Upton, David 
Pingree, Thomas Hunt, Tucker Daland, 

52 The Old Shipmasters 

Michael Shepard, Stephen C. Philips, Ed- 
ward D. Kimball, and Charles Hoffman. 
Several of the above named had been ship- 
masters. They had a formidable rival in their 
commerce with foreign nations, namely, 
the rich East India Company, incorporated 
by Queen Elizabeth in the sixteenth cent- 
ury. This company had for its head Joseph 
Child, at one time doing the menial work 
in a London counting-room, subsequently 
the privileged associate of royalty. King 
Charles 11. accepted a gift from him of ten 
thousand guineas. This company held in 
its powerful grasp the whole trade of Eng- 
land with the Indies, and sent forth its auto- 
cratic edicts, commanding its subjects in 
India to disregard even the votes of the 
House of Commons. 

The Marine Society, as has been observed, 
was an institution of great importance to the 
master mariners and others. Frequent be- 
quests have augmented its treasury so that 
it is at the present time self-supporting. It 
has a clear title-deed to the Franklin Build- 
ing, one of the best blocks in the city, a gift 

Of Salem 53 

from one of the early shipmasters and mer- 
chants of Salem — Captain Thomas Perkins, 
—whose name has been mentioned in con- 
nection with his munificent gift. Mr. Per- 
kins was an intelligent, active, and resolute 
man, and did much in the way of fitting out 
privateers in the Revolutionary War. He, at 
different times, was commander of the priva- 
teers Spitfire and Thrasher, in the last-named 
capturing six prizes in a single cruise. He 
was an associate officer with the late Joseph 
Peabody on the letter-of-marque hng Ranger, 
Captain Simmons, when that vessel was 
attacked in the Potomac River, in 1782, by 
three British Tory barges, which were he- 
roically repulsed, the enemy losing in killed 
and wounded, more than fifty men. Messrs. 
Perkins and Peabody were subsequently 
partners in commercial business for many 
years. Later on, Michael Shepard, another 
of Salem's esteemed merchants, was asso- 
ciated with Mr. Perkins in business. 

Captain Perkins, after retiring from active 
business, returned to his native town, where 
he died November 24, 1830, at the age of 

54 The Old Shipmasters 

seventy-two years. Above his grave is an 
unpicturesque stone, bearing the following 
inscription : 


"His Industry, Temperance and Enter- 
prise Raised him From Poverty to Immense 
Wealth, which he enjoyed without Pride 
or Ostentation, and dispensed with Justice 
and Benevolence. 

"He was Diligent and Faithful in Business, 
Pure in his Life and Conversation ; of a 
Sound and Vigorous Mind, and of an Integ- 
rity and Fortitude which neither Prosperity 
nor Adversity could shake or corrupt. 

"He was an affectionate Son, a kind 
Relative, and a firm Friend. 

"He was a Christian above sectarian 
prejudice, and a Man above Fear and with- 
out Reproach. 

" He was born in Topsfield, April 2d, 1758, 
and died Nov. 24th, 1830." 

It cannot be well conceived how an 
epitaph could be stronger worded ; but 

Of Salem 55 

doubtless it was a tribute which Mr. Per- 
kins fully merited after his long and useful 

The Marine Society in 1890 had a mem- 
bership of fifty, the ages of the members 
ranging as follows : Two over eighty ; ten 
between seventy and eighty ; sixteen be- 
tween sixty and seventy ; seventeen be- 
tween fifty and sixty, and five under fifty. 

In the north end of the Franklin Building, 
on the first floor, is a large room formerly 
occupied as a store, but after the old cap- 
tains' "manifest" had clearly demonstrated 
"shortages" in rent sundry times through 
the migratory propensity of tenants, they 
resolved to occupy the room themselves, 
and, acting in accordance with this idea, 
they removed their furniture and valuables 
from a room which they had occupied 
above. In this room of a pleasant after- 
noon may be seen a coterie of the old cap- 
tains, most of them well on in years. But 
they never grow old in the common accepta- 
tion of that word. Their minds have not 
been dulled through their rough-and-tumble 

56 The Old Shipmasters of Salem 

experiences with the world. As they meet 
together they love to recall the past. Many 
who were wont to grace this room with 
their presence have sailed their final voy- 
age, to a port from which they transmit no 
log-" reckoning" to guide others on the 
unknown sea they have crossed. 


Journal and Record of the Ship George — Death of Greenleaf Perley — 
The Mate's Poetic Tribute— Last of the Old Ship. 

'T'HE old log-books are now held as pre- 
cious souvenirs by the descendants of 
those who kept them in the long years ago. 
The writer has before him a journal of the 
ship George, celebrated for her many suc- 
cessful voyages to the Indies. The names 
of Samuel Endicott, master, and William C. 
Lamb, first officer, are entered upon the first 
page. The entries in these books, made 
from day to day,— the distances run, some 
days covering two hundred miles or more, 
the "baffling winds," "flying clouds," 
" strong gales," " moderate breezes," etc.— 
are of interest. The entry for May 25, 1822, 
is as follows: "At i p.m. weighed anchor 
and sailed from Salem harbor. At 2 dis- 
charged the pilot. At 3 Thatcher's Island 
bore N. 1^ E., distance 7 miles, from which 


58 The Old Shipmasters 

I take my departure. Latitude by obs., 42° 
7' N." The mate added at the bottom of 
his " remarks" the following: ',' God send us 
safe to our distant port and return." It is 
not to be wondered at that the first officer, 
or mate, was in a serious frame of mind, 
when it is remembered that he was entering 
upon a voyage to Calcutta, from which he 
would not return for a year or more. The 
next day's entry was: " Light baffling winds. 
At 2 P.M. spoke the ship Catherine from Cal- 
cutta, bound to Boston ; 1 1 3 days out. Took 
in and set studding-sails, as occasion re- 
quired." The direction of the wind, courses, 
and other necessary details were also en- 
tered. The above is a sample of the daily 
entries, varied, of course, to suit the con- 
dition of things. The ship arrived at Cal- 
cutta on the 22d of August, eighty-nine days 
and five hours from Salem. She sailed for 
her home port December 19th, and reached 
it after a passage of one hundred and one 
days, loaded with the rich goods of the 
East. The George again sailed for Calcutta 
the following June. The first day out the 

Of Salem 59 

mate was inclined to be a bit poetical, so he 
wrote on the margin of his log : 

" The topsails fill — embrace the wind — 
And cast the George to sea ! " 

This was another profitable voyage, and 
there were many of the same kind which 
followed. A few days before leaving Cal- 
cutta, which was on the 14th of February, 
1824, Greenleaf Perley, one of the crew, 
died, and Mr. Lamb, the mate, who, as is 
seen in many places in the journal, was 
quite expert in the use of the pencil or pen, 
devoted one whole page of the book in 
drawing an elaborate headstone. On the 
space at the top a weeping-willow is repre- 
sented, and beneath the name and age of 
deceased are some tributary lines. There 
was not space sufficient on the tablet for 
the five verses he composed, so they were 
in part written at the bottom. The first 
verse reads as follows: 

" The youth ambitious sought a sickly clime, 
His hopes of profit banish'd all his fears ; 
His was the generous wish of love divine, 
To soothe a mother's cares and dry her tears 1 " 

6o The Old Shipmasters 

Mr. Lamb, doubtless, was a very efficient 
officer, but he never rose to the distinction 
of master. This was not necessarily to his 
discredit, as it was occasionally the case 
that a first officer in every way qualified to 
sail as captain would not assume the care 
and responsibility of that office. It was 
sufficient testimony to his ability and relia- 
bility to know that he was able to obtain the 
"billet " of first officer of so famous a ship. 

It is interesting to note the following brief 
record of the George. Her average outward 
voyages to Calcutta were one hundred and 
fifteen days in length, and her homeward 
passages averaged one hundred and three 
days. She was built in Salem in 1814, for a 
privateer, by a company of ship-carpenters 
whom the war had thrown out of work. 
They had learned to build well, and they 
had every motive in this instance to do their 
best. But the war closed, and the un- 
launched ship was converted into a " mer- 
chantman " by the addition of another deck, 
launched and sold. She was designed by 
Christopher Turner, who had built, in 1801, 






Of Salem 6i 

for the Crowninshields, the sloop Jefferson, 
thought to have been the first pleasure- 
yacht ever launched in America. 

The ship was named the George for Captain 
Joseph Peabody's third son. Captain Pea- 
body named a ship for every member of his 
family. It was quite the fashion of the day 
to name vessels thus. Captain Samuel Page 
of Salem had ten children and had a ship 
named for each of them. 

The George measured in length no ft. lo 
in., beam 27 ft., depth of hold 13 ft. 6 in., 
and, according to the measurement of that 
day, 328 tons, equal to a present measure- 
ment of about 228 tons. She took out specie 
to secure her return cargoes, which con- 
sisted mainly of indigo, with some piece- 
stuffs of silk and cotton fabrics. 

On her first voyage she sailed May 23, 
181 5, and entered her home port again June 
13, 18 18. Hardly a man on board was 
twenty-one years of age. Samuel Endicott 
of Beverly, who was on her first voyage an 
able seaman, sailed on her second voyage as 
second officer, and as first officer on her 

62 The Old Shipmasters 

third and fourth voyages, becoming master 
on her fifth voyage. 

Her supercargoes were : Samuel Barton, 
nine voyages ; Samuel Endicott, two voy- 
ages ; James B. Briggs, two voyages ; Eph- 
raim Emmerton, Jr., two voyages ; Daniel 
H. Mansfield, two voyages ; George W. En- 
dicott, one voyage. Francis W. Plckman 
and Augustus Perry each sailed one voyage 
as clerk. In 1821, every man on board but 
the cook could read and write, and he could 
read. All but four understood navigation 
and ' ' lunars. " They were not only of native 
stock, but of the best blood of New England, 
and quite fitted to profit by the opportunities 
for discipline and instruction which made 
the ship, under such officers as sailed her, 
a school of seamanship equal to the best. 
Her drill and appointments were worthy of 
any navy in the world, and when her uni- 
formed crews manned the captain's gig for 
the interchange of courtesies between her 
officers and their visitors in foreign ports, the 
appearance they made elicited no little 

Of Salem 63 

Captain R. B. Forbes says that in his 
early days on the ocean the George was 
known as the " Salem Frigate." Her cooks 
and stewards were black, and no yachtsman 
of to-day carries a more famous cook than 
London Ruliff or Prince Farmer, nor a better 
steward than William Coleman or John 
Tucker. The stories of her unrivalled speed 
are countless, and her triumphs over rivals 
and companion ships fill a bright page in 
the history of Salem. Great odds were re- 
peatedly laid in wagers on her speed, but 
she never disappointed her backers. Forty- 
five of the graduates of this training-school 
became shipmasters, twenty chief mates, and 
six second mates. She paid into the Treas- 
ury of the United States, in duties on im- 
ports in her twenty-one voyages, the sum 
of $651,744. In 1836, she won her "free- 
dom suit " of colors,— a fine set of silk flags 
and signals presented by the Binian mer- 
chants of Calcutta, and now in the hands 
of S. Endicott Peabody, of Salem. 

She was furnished with the best of the 
old-time appliances, steered with a tiller, all 

64 The Old Shipmasters 

hands weighing anchor with the hand wind- 
lass, cables, and standing rigging, all from 
Salem "ropewalks." Such was the good 
ship George — never beaten because fast in 
light winds. Even famous clipper ships 
with a record of over three hundred miles 
a day could not outsail her. Her best run 
(in 183 1) from the Cape of Good Hope to 
the equator was twenty-two days ; from the 
equator to Salem, nineteen days ; from the 
Cape to Salem, forty-one days. This is be- 
lieved to be the quickest passage from the 
Cape to a North Atlantic port ever made 
under canvas. 

The George had her vicissitudes. In 1827, 
she was chased by a schooner, a three-mast- 
er — a rare rig in those days, — which proved 
to be a slave-pirate, but she escaped with 
ease. Twice she encountered terrific gales 
and was badly wrecked, first, in Massa- 
chusetts Bay in the dreadful snow-storm of 
March, 1823— the worst storm in a genera- 
tion, — and again in the Indian Ocean, a year 
later, when a hurricane drove all hands 
below but one man who was lashed to the 

Of Salem 65 

helm. On her arrival at Pernambuco in 
September, 1828, forty days out of Salem, 
she was leaking from ten to twelve hundred 
"strokes" per hour. Her cargo was dis- 
charged and she was stripped, hove down, 
and her planking and copper sheathing re- 
newed, all within forty-nine days, and at a 
cost of nearly double the I5248 paid for her 
hull when on the "stocks." In 1834, she 
returned aleak in ballast from Gibraltar, 
where she had lain seven months waiting 
in vain for a cargo of quicksilver, her keel 
loose, only five copper bolts holding, with 
sheathing started and seams open. A silver 
service of five pieces was presented to Captain 
Balch by the commander and passengers of 
the British ship Heroine, in recognition of 
aid rendered in the Indian Ocean, after the 
hurricane of October 29, 1836. 

Finally, the George arrived from Calcutta 
May 17, 1837, and was sold for the South 
American trade. She sailed from Salem for 
Rio de Janeiro, on her last voyage, in Sep- 
tember, but not before her surviving officers 
had stood on her quarter-deck once more, 

66 The Old Shipmasters 

and had enjoyed together a social hour in 
her familiar cabin. If the list of guests at 
this unique gathering could be produced, it 
would be found to contain many of the best 
names that have graced our commercial an- 
nals. Freighted with the regrets of all who 
recalled her in her prime, the famous craft 
left this port for Rio de Janeiro, where she 
was condemned, sold, and broken up on her 
arrival. So the "line-of-battle-ship," the 
"ocean-greyhound," the "Cup-defender," 
the Argonaut of trade — all alike find their 
last haven in the junk-shop! 

The picture of the George, reproduced on 
another page, was the work of Edmund 
Stone of Beverly, who sailed before the 
mast in her from July, 1820, until April, 1821, 
and who is the only person known to have 
made a drawing of her. The names of the 
captains who commanded the George at 
different times, and the number of voy- 
ages they sailed, are as follows: William 
Haskell, one; Thomas West, three; Sam- 
uel Endicott, seven; Thomas M. Saun- 
ders, four; Jonathan H. Lovett, Jr., four; 

Of Salem 67 

Benjamin Balch, Jr., two; Jefferson Adams, 

The above record of the George is only one 
of the many remarkable ones that might be 



Interesting Correspondence from the Salem Register — The Ships Ha:(- 
ard (First and Second) — Model of the Frigate Constitution, etc. 
— Commodore Bainbridge's Visit to Salem in 1813 — Captain 
Charles H. Allen's Voyages — The Ships St. Paul and Mindoro — 
Last of the Indiamen. 

A CORRESPONDENT of the Salem Regis- 
*^ ter, writing under date of May lo, 1 877, 
to that paper, says: 

" I find in the Salem Impartial Register of 
May 14, 1 80 1, the following item : 

"'The ship Haiard, Capt. Richard 
Gardner, arrived at New York on Friday 
last, in ninety days from Bengal, and forty- 
five days from the Cape of Good Hope. 
Left at the former port (Calcutta), ships 
Adventure, Parr; Cyrus, Leach; bark Eli^a, 

This correspondent further remarks: "Can 
any better passage than this, if equal to it, 
be found in these times of clipper ships? 


The Old Shipmasters of Salem 69 

There may have been an equally short or 
shorter passage, but the writer does not recall 
any from many years of general familiarity 
and notice of passages from east of the Cape 
of Good Hope, or many in less than forty -five 
days from the Cape, or even in that time. 
The present bark Ha:{ard, nov/ twenty-eight 
years old, and named after the old Hazard, 
had made many voyages east of the Cape, 
and several short passages, but was never 
less than forty-seven days from the Cape to 
Boston, her shortest time from there. The 
old Ha:{ard was a noted sailer in her day. 
She once made the passage from New York 
to the harbor of Rio Janeiro in thirty-one 
days. She made the passage from New 
York to Java Head in seventy-seven days, 
and completed the voyage by returning to 
New York after an absence of only seven 
months and five days. She also made 
a voyage from New York to Rio Janeiro, 
thence to New Orleans, and back to Boston 
in two days short of four months, with full 
cargoes each way." 
In the east hall of the Peabody Academy 

70 The Old Shipmasters 

of Science are several full-rigged models of 
ships of historical interest — a memorial 
of the early commercial supremacy of 
Salem, and a reminder of the work of the 
East India Marine Society. Among the full- 
rigged models are the Friendship, built in 
1797; the brig Camel, captured from the 
British in the War of 181 2; and the United 
States frigate Constitution, the last a gift 
from Commodore Hull in 181 3. From the 
last-named model a national salute was fired 
at the dinner in Hamilton Hall, given in 18 13 
by the Salem Light Infantry to the gallant 
commander of the old ship — Commodore 
Bainbridge. The model was evidently dam- 
aged by the performance, as a receipted bill, 
now in possession of the Museum, shows 
that a year later it was repaired by " British 
prisoners of war" then held in Salem — "a 
bit of kind-hearted irony on the part of the 
old Salem sea-dogs who then conducted 
the Museum," said a citizen. 

The ship Mindoro, owned by Silsbee Pick- 
man and Allen, the last of the many "mer- 
chantmen" from Salem, which once proudly 

Captain John Bertram (1796-1882), Shipmaster and Merchant. 

Captain Bertram was a philanthropist, and dispensed large sums of 

money for charitable purposes. 

From an oil painting by Edward Parker. 

Of Salem 71 

sailed the seas in nearly every habitable part 
of the globe, was "docked" at Derby 
wharf in 1894. She was built in 1864, but 
looked as trim and clean as when she came 
from the builder's hands. As the ship moved 
majestically up to the wharf, commanded 
by Captain Charles H. Allen, Jr. — her first 
and last commander, — the scene was grand 
and inspiriting, calling up the long-slumber- 
ing past. The Mindoro never left the wharf 
again until she was sold in 1896. Soon after 
the transfer of ownership, — the new pur- 
chaser evidently having no regard for senti- 
ment, — ^the brave old ship, so symmetrical 
in form and appointments, was "stripped" 
and degraded to a humiliating service — that 
of coal carrier, to be "tugged " around by a 
cheap and insignificant craft. 

Captain Charles H. Allen went to sea 
when in his "teens" and soon rose to the 
position of master. He, at different times, 
commanded some of Salem's most famous 
ships. Captain Allen sailed from Salem as 
mate of the Brookline, on July 2, 1833, and 
was accompanied down the harbor and 

72 The Old Shipmasters 

nearly twenty miles out to sea by some of 
the leading citizens, they returning in a pilot 
boat. Among those present were Hon. 
Stephen C. Phillips, merchant, and subse- 
quently mayor and Member of Congress ; 
Rev. John Brazier, pastor of the North 
Church ; Rev. James W. Thompson, of the 
First Church ; Rev. Charles W. Upham, 
author of the History of Salem Witchcraft; 
Captain Kennedy, master of the Brookline 
on a former voyage ; Captain Lovett of 
Beverly, and Mr. J. Porter Felt. Mr. John 
Felt, a brother of the last named, related 
to the writer that all the guests experi- 
enced the utmost enjoyment of the trip 
with the exception of the Rev. Mr. Brazier, 
who suffered from sea-sickness. There 
were those of the party, however, who 
were so uncharitable as to attribute the 
cause of his illness to the Rev. Mr. Up- 
ham's cigar ! 

Captain Allen came from a seafaring 
family, his father having been a shipmaster; 
and three of his brothers "followed the sea." 
William E. died in Gambia, Africa, while 

Of Salem 73 

mate of the brig Quill; Joseph A. died in 
Havana, being mate of a ship ; and George 
F. was lost overboard, in a gale of wind, 
from the ship Celestial. 

Captain Allen took command of the ship 
Brookline in 1836, and of the ship St. Paul 
in 1844, and completed five voyages in the 
latter, but on the sixth she was lost in the 
Straits of St. Bernardino. She was one of 
the last Indiamen in a long line of celebrated 
predecessors. Her hulk now lies stranded 
on a desolate shore, and the ebbing and 
flowing tides play in and about her decaying 
timbers. This old ship was a typical craft 
of the early part of the last century, stand- 
ing high out of the water and having imita- 
tion "port-holes " painted black on a wide 
band of white. She really looked more like 
a man-of-war than a merchantman. The old 
craft still lives in the memories of some who 
were school-boys sixty years ago, and who 
used to climb her rigging and be proud of 
their achievements. 

Captain Allen returned from the sea in 
i860, having rounded out fifty years of 

74 The Old Shipmasters of Salem 

service, and died in Salem in 1899 at the 
age of eighty-nine years. 

Note. — The following information touching the ship St. Paul is 
from a citizen who well remembers her . ' ' The St. Paid, whose 
measurement was about 463 tons, was a fine ship, built at Boston in 
1833. Her stern was broad and square, in which were several large 
windows, and above them were quaint carvings representing St. Paul 
on the Isle of Malta shaking the viper from his hand. The figure-head 
of the ship consisted of a striking bust of St. Paul. She made four- 
teen voyages to IWanila and was lost in the last one in the Straits of 
Bernardino. When in port at Manila the native boatmen used to 
cross themselves whenever they passed the bow of the vessel, out of 
reverence to the great Apostle the figure-head represented." 



Fellow-Feeling among the Mariners — Love for their Native Land and 
the American Flag — The Corsairs and their Atrocities — War with 
Algiers — The Brave Commanders Decatur and Bainbridge. 

'T'HE Marine Society, as has been stated, 
* furnished many naval officers for the 
Revolutionary War, and for that of 1812. 
These men were not only hardy and cour- 
ageous, but they were possessed of good 
judgment, could be relied on in every emer- 
gency, and had a strong fellow-feeling for 
each other. No American suffering injus- 
tice in a foreign port, however humble his 
condition, ever appealed to the old captains 
in vain. They were ever alive to the calls 
of distress, and stood ready, at all times, to 
rescue the perishing, even at the sacrifice of 
their own lives. The American flag was a 
rich heritage to them, and they held and 

protected it as a sacred trust. It floated 


76 The Old Shipmasters 

from the main peak of their vessels at home 
and abroad. An insult to the flag was a 
personal insult to them. Whenever and 
wherever it was assailed, 

"They rushed to meet the insulting foe, 
And took the spear, but left the shield." 

As early as 1785 the Algerine corsairs be- 
came troublesome to nearly every European 
government in the capture of vessels and 
their crews, and subjecting the latter to 
slavery for the purpose of extorting ransoms 
from their respective governments. These 
outrages were at last extended to vessels of 
the United States. Officers and crews sail- 
ing under the American flag were captured 
by the barbaric Algerines and held as pris- 
oners, and every indignity imposed upon 

The Marine Society was the prime mover 
in an undertaking which not only taught 
the Algerines better manners, but eventu- 
ally relieved the suffering natives from a 
thraldom which had become destructive 
and intolerable. On the 29th of November, 

Of Salem n 

1792, the Marine Society, realizing the con- 
dition of affairs, took the following action : 

''Voted, That the committee of corre- 
spondence be desired to write Congress to 
know if anything can be done for our poor 
brethren prisoners that are confined at Al- 
giers." From the old records it is learned 
that in 1785 the corsairs captured two 
American vessels — one of which was from 
Salem— and held their crews, demanding 
that a stipulated sum be paid by the United 
States Government for their release. Fol- 
lowing this act, other crews were taken in 
the same way by these barbarians, and con- 
signed to servitude. Sums ranging from 
$2000 to $4000 per capita were demanded 
for the release of the crews. 

European governments had been in the 
habit of acceding to the extortions of the 
Dey — in order to protect their seamen — and 
paid him annual tribute. In 1805, the 
United States Government, following the 
example of European governments, effected 
a treaty with the Dey, who released the 
captives on the payment of fixed amounts of 

78 The Old Shipmasters 

money, and an agreement by the Govern- 
ment to pay him an' annual sum. The 
amount to be paid down was |8,ooo,ooo, 
with an additional consideration of the 
present of a frigate worth 1 100,000. The 
amount of annual tribute was to be 125,000. 

The record shpws that in 1 794 the officers 
and crews of five American ships, five brigs, 
and three schooners were held as captives by 
theAlgerines. Out of thirteen masters, eleven 
mates, two supercargoes, four second mates, 
and eighty-four seamen, only four had been 
redeemed in February, 1794. The plague 
soon after visited Algiers, and out of one 
hundred and twenty-six captives only eighty 

"Notices were posted in conspicuous places 
in Salem, on February 10, 1795, requesting 
the people to attend a meeting to be held 
at the Court-House, on the evening of that 
day, of which the following is the text : 

" For the purpose of taking into consid- 
eration the unhappy situation of the unfor- 
tunate prisoners at Algiers, and to devise 
some method for carrying into effect a gen- 

Of Salem 79 

eral collection for their relief, on Thursday, 
the 19th day of the present month. The 
meeting is called by the desire of the rever- 
end clergy and other respectable citizens of 
this town, who wish to have some system 
formed that will meet the acceptance of the 
inhabitants previous to the day of contribu- 
tion. The truly deplorable fate of these 
miserable captives loudly calls for your com- 
miseration, and the fervent prayers they 
have addressed to you from their gloomy 
prisons ought to soften the most adamant- 
ine heart. They intreat you in the most 
impassioned language not to leave them to 
despair, but, as prisoners of hope, let those 
of them who still survive the plague, pesti- 
lence, and famine, anticipate the day that 
shall relieve them from the cruel scourge of 
an infidel, and restore them to the arms of 
their long-bereaved friends and country. It 
is hoped the humane and benevolent will 
attend, that charity may not be defeated of 
her intended sacrifice in the auspicious festi- 
val, when the New World shall all be assem- 
bled, and the United States shall offer up 

8o The Old Shipmasters 

her tribute of Praise and Thanksgiving at 
the altars of God," 

This was a day of national thanksgiving, 
ordered by proclamation of President Wash- 
ington ; hence considerations of a public 
nature prevented the movement from being 
carried into effect. But there is no doubt 
that the action of the Marine Society and its 
memorial to Congress prompted the Gov- 
ernment to act in the matter. Subsequently 
the Government effected a treaty with Al- 
giers, as has been stated, by paying annual 
tribute, and the prisoners were released. It 
was not long, however, before the Mediter- 
ranean pirates committed further outrages, 
more American vessels were captured, some 
of which hailed from Salem. The efforts of 
the Government to protect its seamen seemed 
to be of no avail. The Algerine officials 
paid but little attention to remonstrances, 
and, instead of trying to protect American 
commerce, connived at the depredations of 
the marauders. At last forbearance ceased 
to be a virtue with the American Govern- 
ment, and on the 2d of March, 1815, war 

Of Salem 8i 

was declared against Algiers. It was of but 
a few months' duration, however, and De- 
catur and Shaler, the American commission- 
ers, concluded a treaty on favorable terms. 
As the American squadron, which had con- 
quered the Algerines, lay at Gibraltar, an 
officer on board of one of the vessels wrote: 

" It was a proud sight for an American to 
see in a British port, just at the close of a 
war with her, which the English thought 
would have been the destruction of our 
navy, a squadron of seventeen sails, larger 
than our whole navy at the commencement 
of the war. . . . You have no idea of the 
respect which the American character has 
gained by our late wars. The Spaniards, 
especially, think we are devils incarnate; as 
we beat the English, who beat the French, 
who beat them— whom nobody ever beat 
before, — and the Algerines, whom the devil 
himself could not beat." 

It was thus that the disgrace of paying 
tribute to the Algerines was wiped out by 
Decatur and Bainbridge. The United States 
was the first nation to free herself from this 


82 The Old Shipmasters of Salem 

subjection. The Dey very reluctantly gave 
up the idea of extorting tribute from the 
Americans, fearing that other nations would 
take advantage of it. He gave the commis- 
sioners to understand that it was not the 
amount of the sum he was particular about, 
but that the receipt of something annually 
from the Americans would add to his secu- 
rity, if it were only a little powder. Com- 
modore Decatur observed that he thought 
it very probable that, if he (the Dey) insisted 
upon receiving powder from the Americans, 
his wishes would be fully gratified, but he 
must expect to receive balls with it. 

Salem merchants, shipmasters, and crews 
were among the greatest sufferers from the 
piratical captures of the Algerines, and it 
was largely due to the united and persistent 
efforts of the members of the Salem Marine 
Society that the Government was at last 
moved to take decisive action. 


Privateers in the Revolutionary War and that of 1812 — Captain Hara- 
den and Other Brave Commanders — The British Navy Crippled by 
American Privateers — Extracts from the Captain's Journal. 

T ETTERS of marque/ or commissions au- 
^ thorizing privateers to make war upon, 
or seize the property of, a nation upon the 
high seas, were issued by European nations 
at an early period. Private vessels of two 
nations at war with each other were de- 
barred from destroying property or in any 
way interfering with legitimate commerce, 
unless granted letters-of-marque. Acting 
without such authority was considered 

Naval warfare is not a pastime, nor is it 
necessarily a duel of honor between two 
warring powers in settling a dispute. This 

' Letters-of-marque were abolished among European nations at the 
Treaty of Paris in 1856. 


84 The Old Shipmasters 

being true, the destruction of war-ships and 
the lives of men is recognized as lawful by 
every nation engaged in war. Therefore, it 
is both absurd and illogical to deprive a na- 
tion, thus belligerently engaged, from crip- 
pling an antagonist in every way possible, 
even by the employment of privateers. By 
this, war is not made more cruel. That 
is a humane policy which aims to bring 
hostilities to a close in the shortest time 
possible. It is plain, then, that the most 
effective agencies should be employed. 
Had it not been for the privateers in both 
the Revolutionary War and that of 1812, 
this country would have experienced greater 
loss and more suffering, and the result — 
certainly in the Revolutionary War — might 
have been different. Our improvised navy, 
manned largely by the hardy fishermen from 
Salem, Marblehead, Beverly, and other sea- 
port towns, was most destructive to the 
navy and commercial resources of Great 
Britain. The navy of the Colonists at the 
Revolutionary period did not pretend to 
cope in open sea with the line-of-battle 

Captain Chas. H. Allen, Commander of the St Paul, and 
other noted ships. 

Of Salem 85 

ships of that country ; but the brave and 
intrepid Yankee fishermen, many times in 
their fishing " smacks," captured by ruse or 
stratagem Britain's most formidable ships. 
They were ever on the alert for an opportu- 
nity to " cut out " from a hostile fleet some 
straying frigate, and scores of times did they 

In the War of the Revolution the Colonists 
were poorly equipped to measure strength 
with the enemy, more particularly on the 
sea. Our commerce was nearly ruined, and 
it was all-important to success that the 
commerce of Great Britain should suffer 
likewise. At this period the merchants and 
master mariners of Salem turned their ves- 
sels into privateers. During the war, one 
hundred and fifty-eight vessels of all kinds, 
fully equipped and manned, were sent out 
from Salem. These vessels had an arma- 
ment of two thousand guns, and the aggre- 
gate of the crews ran up into the thousands. 
They took four hundred and forty-five 
prizes in the war, and the vessels lost by 
the Americans were less than fifty. 

86 The Old Shipmasters 

Among the brave officers who com- 
manded privateers w^ere Jonathan Haraden, 
Thomas Benson, John Carnes, John Derby, 
Benjamin Crowninshield, John Felt, Simon 
Forrester, Joseph Waters, Thomas Perkins, 
S. Tucker, and William Gray. There were 
also other well-known names in this con- 

Captain Haraden, after rising to the posi- 
tion of lieutenant in the navy, took com- 
mand of the General Pickering, a. ship of 
1 80 tons, and carrying fourteen six-pound- 
ers, and a crew of forty-five men. In this 
ship he sailed in 1780. Soon after leaving 
port, he was attacked by a British cutter of 
twenty guns and sixty-five men. After a 
combat of two hours his opponent escaped. 
As he entered the Bay of Biscay he fell in 
with a British privateer of twenty-two guns 
and sixty men. The meeting of the vessels 
was in the night, and Captain Haraden 
ran alongside unobserved, and commanded, 
through his trumpet, the immediate surren- 
der of his opponent or he would sink him. 
This demand was complied with at once. 

Of Salem 87 

Nearing the port of Bilboa, a vessel was 
seen coming out which the captured captain 
said was the Achilles, an English ship of 
forty-two guns, and one hundred and forty 
men. "I sha'n't run from her," was the 
cool reply of Captain Haraden. The Achilles 
retook the prize, and as night drew on de- 
ferred further attack until morning. At day- 
break the Achilles proudly bore down upon 
the Pickering, but the captain of that vessel 
was not caught napping. The fight lasted 
three hours, at the end of which time the 
British ship was compelled to withdraw. 
The Pickering immediately gave chase, but 
the British ship being the lighter escaped. 
Captain Haraden returned, recaptured his 
prize, and took her into Bilboa. 

The late Robert Cowan, who was on 
board the Pickering at the time of the fight, 
said that "the General Pickering, in com- 
parison with her antagonist, looked like a 
longboat beside a ship," and that " he (Cap- 
tain Haraden) fought with a determination 
that seemed superhuman ; and, although in 
the most exposed positions, where shot flew 

88 The Old Shipmasters 

around him in thousands, he was all the 
while as calm and steady as amidst a shower 
of snowflakes. " 

On one of his cruises Captain Haraden 
fell in with the king's mail-packet on her 
homeward trip. The two vessels closed in 
upon each other, and after four hours of 
desperate fighting, Captain Haraden was 
compelled to haul off to repair damages. 
Having put his ship in the best condition 
possible, he loaded his cannon with all the 
powder he had left, and ran down to the 
packet, and hailing the captain, said: "1 
will give you five minutes to haul down 
your colors, and if they are not down at 
the end of that time I will sink you." 
The colors came down in just three min- 
utes. This act is but an illustration of the 
daring spirit which inspired the captains of 

During the war. Captain Haraden captured 
over one thousand cannon and scores of rich 
prizes. The Salem privateers crippled the 
British Navy by intercepting the transport 
and supply ships sent from England and 

Of Salem 89 

Nova Scotia to the troops in Boston and 
New York. They cruised in the English 
and Irish Channels, in the Bay of Biscay, and 
hovered round every port of the enemy, 
waiting for their prey. So disastrous was 
their work that England finally had to 
employ most of her navy in convoying her 
merchant ships. During this time the rate 
of insurance on British ships was raised 
twenty-three per cent. 

Captain Hezekiah Flint sailed in the 
schooner Syntha from Salem harbor, and 
proceeded for Hispaniola,. in sight of which 
he was captured by a Bermudian privateer, 
who put on board eight men and a prize- 
master, taking from the schooner the mate 
and three men, and ordered her to Bermuda. 
After being on board the privateer eleven 
days, one of the men, who had been ill- 
treated, informed Captain Flint he wished 
to retake the schooner, which being agreed 
to, the next morning, about four o'clock, 
they, with two others, took possession by 
securely fastening the prize-master and men 
in the cabin. They then shaped their course 

go The Old Shipmasters 

home, where they arrived in due time, bring- 
ing nearly all the cargo with them. They 
had to keep on deck after capturing the 

In the War of 1812, Salem was again at 
the "front" with her privateers. She 
equipped and sent to sea forty vessels with 
letters-of-marque papers. Their tonnage 
was 3405 ; armament, 189 guns, and the 
aggregate number of men 2142. Boston 
sent out only thirty-one vessels. 

From the records it is found that the 
schooner Fame of Salem was a fishing-boat 
of but thirty tons, carrying two guns and 
thirty men. She received her papers July 
I, 1 8 12, at noon, and sailed in the afternoon. 
She sent the first prize into Salem. Robert 
Brookhouse was one of her commanders. 
The Jefferson, a boat of fourteen tons, be- 
longing to George Crowninshieldj sailed the 
same day as the Fame, and sent the second 
prize to Salem. 

The America was considered the fastest 
sailer afloat during the war. She made 
several cruises under the respective com- 

Of Salem 91 

mands of Captain Joseph Ropes and Captain 
James Cheever, Jr. She captured during 
her first three cruises twenty-six prizes, and 
sent property into port valued at $1, 100,000. 
The following extracts are from the journal 
of the America on her first voyage, when in 
command of Captain Ropes. 


"Monday, Sept. 7, 1812. — At half-past 
1 1 o'clock weighed anchor and beat out of 
the harbor. 

"Friday, Sept. iith. — Carried away the 
maintop-mast with five men aloft, but none 
of them was injured. 

"Wednesday, Sept. 23d. — At half-past 5 
A.M., captured the British \>x\g James and, 
Charlotte, Lavitt, master, from Liverpool 
bound to St. John's. Cargo: coal, hats, dry- 
goods, etc. Put Mr. Tibbetts, prize-master, 
and six men on board, and ordered her for 
the first port she could make. 

" Friday, Nov. 6th, at 4 p.m., saw a sail to 
the southward. Wore round after her and 
made all necessary sail in chase. At 9 a.m. 

92 The Old Shipmasters 

brought her to and boarded her. She proved 
to be the British brig Benjamin, James Col- 
lins, master, from Newfoundland to England. 

' ' Saturday, Nov. 7th, manned the brig with 
Joseph Dixon, prize-master, and eight men, 
and ordered her for the first port to north- 
ward of Nantucket in North America. Took 
the mate and seven men from the brig, and 
left the captain, one man, and a boy on board. 

" Wednesday, Nov. i8th, at 7. 30 a.m., saw 
a sail bearing northwest by west. Let two 
reefs from the topsail, and set the maintop- 
gallant-sail in chase. 

"Thursday, Nov. 19th, at i p.m., came up 
with the chase and boarded her. She proved 
to be the ship Ralph Nickerson, from Que- 
bec, bound for and belonging to London, 
with a cargo of lumber. Put on board John 
Proctor as prize-master and eleven men, 
and ordered her to America. 

"Tuesday, Nov. 24th, at 7.30 a.m., saw a 
sail bearing S.W. by S., and made all neces- 
sary sail in chase. At 9 a.m. brought her 
to and boarded her. She proved to be the 
British ship Hope, from St. Thomas, bound 

Of Salem 93 

to Glasgow. Cargo: sugar, rum, and cot- 
ton. The captain informed us he had left 
a fleet three days previous, consisting of 
forty-five sail of vessels, under convoy of 
the King Dove and Scorpion, sloops of war. 
Put on board Joseph Valpey as prize-mas- 
ter and twelve men, and ordered her for 

"Wednesday, Nov. 25th, at 3.45 p.m., 
saw a sail bearing south, standing easterly. 
Gave chase, and at 4.45 p.m. fired and 
brought her to and boarded her. She proved 
to be the British brig Dart, from St. Thomas 
bound to Glasgow. Cargo principally rum 
and cotton. The boat left the brig with Mr. 
Sparhawk, Thomas Fuller, and five prison- 
ers, but unfortunately the boat got under 
the ship's counter and foundered. Mr. 
Sparhawk, Thomas Fuller, and three of the 
prisoners were saved; the other two prison- 
ers were drowned. The captain put on 
board Anthony D. Caulfield as prize-master. 

"Sunday, Dec. 6th, begins with a hard 
gale and squally, with rain. Several of the 
officers and crew attacked with a very 

94 The Old Shipmasters of Salem 

troublesome inflammation of the eyes, which 
disorder cannot be accounted for. Curtailed 
the allowance of water to three and one 
half pints per twenty-four hours. 

"Wednesday, Dec. i6th, at 7. 30 a.m., saw 
a sail to the southeast, and made all sail in 
chase. At 8 perceived that she was a brig 
steering to the eastward. At 1 1 brought her 
to and boarded her. She proved to be the 
British brig Euphemia of Glasgow, from La 
Guayra bound to Gibraltar, John Gray mas- 
ter, mounting ten guns, and navigated by 
twenty-five men. 

"Thursday, Dec. 17th, took eight guns 
from the prize and put on board Archibald S. 
Dennis as prize-master and eleven men, and 
took from her the first and second officers 
and twenty-one men. At 5 p.m. parted from 
her and made sail. 

"Thursday, Jan. 7, 181 3, at 3 p.m., saw 
the land about Marblehead, and at 8 o'clock 
came to anchor in Salem harbor." 

The six prizes captured by the America 
on this cruise were valued at one hundred 
and fifty-eight thousand dollars. 


Cruise of the Famous Privateer Grand Turk — How this Ship Escaped 
from Two British Frigates — Fight of the Ship Montgomery with 
an English Packet Brig — Bravery of Captain Benjamin Upton. 

jVj EXT to the ship America, the brig Grand 
Turk was, perhaps, the most noted 
privateer in the War of 1812. Her cruises 
and the daring of her officers and crew have 
been the theme for many a winter's tale 
around New England firesides when the 
wild storms raged without. On occasions 
like these the smallest school-boy has often 
listened with rapt attention akin to awe as 
some old adventurer on the " mighty deep " 
has spun his yarns; and not infrequently 
have lessons of duty and patriotism been 
inculcated thereby. More impressively in- 
structive to the young, and better adapted 
to their comprehension than many of the 
school-books which pretend to give an epit- 


96 The Old Shipmasters 

ome of our naval history, were the stories as 
they came fresh from the lips of living parti- 
cipants in the marvelous, even though there 
were woven in occasional threads of fancy. 
The Grand Turk, at one time a merchant- 
man, as previously indicated, was a taut, 
trim vessel of 310 tons burden, and a very 
fast sailer. She carried eighteen guns and 
a crew of one hundred and fifty men. Her 
first commander was Holten J. Breed, who 
was succeeded by Nathan Green, After a 
cruise of one hundred and three days, she 
arrived in Salem with only forty-four of 
the original crew — ^the rest having been as- 
signed to captured prizes — and fifty prison- 
ers. She captured seven vessels, one with 
an invoice of ^30,000 sterling, and had on 
board goods to the amount of |20,ooo. Fol- 
lowing are extracts from the journal of the 
Grand Turk while on her last cruise. 


"Sunday, Jan. i, 1813, at 12.30 p.m., got 
under way, stowed the anchor, and cleared 
the decks. At 2 p.m., passed Baker's Island. 

Of Salem 97 

"Friday, Feb. 17th, at 3.30 p.m., boarded 
a catamaran for the purpose of gaining infor- 
mation. She proved to be from Pernam- 
buco, and informed us of there being eight 
British vessels at said port. At 6 p.m., saw 

"Sunday, Feb. 19th, at 5.30 p.m., saw a 
sail in the north. At 9 a.m., boarded the 
brig foven, Francisco, under Spanish colors, 
from Pernambuco for London, with a cargo 
of tea, coffee, sugar, and cinnamon, con- 
signed to British merchants. By examina- 
tion of one of the crew, who states the cargo 
to be British property, and some letters and 
invoices, I have every reason to believe the 
property to be bona fide British. Accord- 
ingly manned her with Nathaniel Archer as 
prize-master, and ordered her to the United 

"Tuesday, Feb. 21st, at 5 p.m., saw a sail 
in the south standing to the northward. 
Lay by for her. At 6. 30, boarded her. She 
proved to be the British ship Active, Jane, 
of Liverpool, bound for Rio Janeiro to Ma- 
ranham in ballast. Took from her seven 

98 The Old Shipmasters 

bags of specie, containing 14,000 millrees, 
equal to 117,500, and manned her out to 
keep company during the night. At day- 
light boarded, dismantled, and scuttled her. 
" Friday, March loth, at daylight the man 
at the masthead described a sail in the east- 
ern quarter. Called all hands immediately 
and made sail in chase. Soon after saw 
another sail on the weather-bow. Still in 
pursuit of the chase and approaching her 
fast. At 6.30, passed very near the second 
sail, which was a Portuguese schooner 
standing W.S.W. At 7, saw the third sail 
three points on our lee-bow, the chase a 
ship. At 8, discovered the third to be a 
large ship by the wind to the north and 
westward. At 10, being three-fourths of a 
mile to windward, discovered the chase to 
be a frigate, endeavoring to decoy us. 
Tacked ship, and she immediately tacked 
and made all sail in pursuit of us. Soon 
perceived we had the superiority of sailing; 
displayed the American flag and fired a shot 
in defiance. At 11, the wind hauled sud- 
denly to the westward. The frigate received 








































Of Salem 99 

a favorable breeze, which caused her to lay 
across, and nearing us fast. At 11.30, the 
frigate within gunshot; got out our sweeps 
and made considerable progress, although 
calm and a short head sea. Frigate com- 
menced firing, got out her boats, and at- 
tempted to tack four different times, but did 
not succeed. Hoisted our colors and gave 
her a number of shot. A ship to leeward, a 
frigate also. At noon swept our brig round 
with her head to the northward, and, having 
the sea more favorable, left the chaser con- 
siderably. The day ends with extreme 
sultry weather; all hands to the sweeps, 
and both ships in pursuit of us. 

"Saturday, March nth, at dusk — Frigates 
using every exertion to near us. 

"Sunday, March 12th, 1.30 p.m. — Saw two 
sail two points on our bow ; soon discov- 
ered them to be the two frigates still in pur- 
suit of us, and the enemy still holding the 
breeze. At 5 p.m., light variable winds with 
us and the enemy still holding the breeze. 
Took to our sweeps. At dusk, the enemy's 
ships bore S.S.W. 

loo The Old Shipmasters 

" Monday, March 13th, at 2 p.m., the ene- 
my having been out of sight four and a half 
hours, concluded to get down the fore- 
topmast and replace it with a new one. All 
hands busily employed. At 4, saw a sail 
ahead standing for us. At 5.30, got the 
new foretopmast and the topgallant- mast in 
place, rigging secured, yards aloft, and made 
sail in pursuit of the latter. At 7, came up 
and boarded her ; she proved to be a Portu- 
guese brig, bound from Bahia to Le Grande 
with a cargo of salt. Finding ourselves dis- 
covered by the British cruisers, and being 
greatly encumbered with prisoners, con- 
cluded to release them, and accordingly pa- 
roled five British prisoners and discharged 
ten Spaniards and put them on board the 
brig, after giving a necessary supply of pro- 

"Saturday, March i8th, at 2 p.m., came 
up and spoke a Portuguese brig from Africa 
bound to Rio Janeiro with a cargo of slaves. 
Filled away in pursuit of a second sail in the 
northwest. At 4.30, she hoisted English 
colors, and commenced firing her stern 

Of Salem loi 

guns. At 5.20, took in the steering sails ; 
at the same time she fired a broadside. We 
opened a fire from our larboard battery, and 
at 5.30 she struck her colors. Got out our 
boats and boarded her. She proved to be 
the British brig Acorn, from Liverpool for 
Rio Janeiro, mounting 14 cannon and hav- 
ing a cargo of dry goods. At 5.50, vs^e re- 
ceived the first boatload of goods on board. 
Employed all night in discharging her. 

" Sunday, March 19th, at daylight, saw 
two frigates and a brig on the lee beam, in 
chase of us. Took a full boat load of goods 
on board, manned out the prize with Joseph 
Phippen and eleven men, and ordered her 
for the United States. As the prize was in 
a good plight for sailing, 1 have good reason 
to think she escaped. One of the frigates 
pursued us for three-quarters of an hour, 
but finding that she had her old antagonist, 
gave over the pursuit. Having on board one 
hundred and sixty odd bales, boxes, cases, 
and trunks of goods, which I conceive are 
very valuable, and the brig's copper and rig- 
ging being very much out of repair, and 

I02 The Old Shipmasters 

water scant, concluded to return home with 
all possible despatch. As another induce- 
ment, I have information of a treaty of peace 
being signed at Ghent between the United 
States and Great Britain, and only remains 
to be ratified by the former. 

"Wednesday, March 29th, at 4 a.m., saw 
a sail to windward very near us, and tacked 
in pursuit of her. At 8.30, came up with 
and boarded her. She proved to be a Por- 
tuguese ship from Africa bound to Maran- 
ham, with four hundred and seventy-four 
slaves on board. Paroled and put on board 
said ship eleven British prisoners. 

" Saturday, April 15th, boarded the Ameri- 
can schooner Commit, of and from Alexan- 
dria, for Barbadoes with a cargo of flour. 
They gave us the joyful tidings of peace be- 
tween America and England, which produced 
the greatest rejoicing throughout the ship's 

"Saturday, April 29, 181 5, at 7.30 a.m., 
saw Thatcher's Island bearing northwest. 
At 8, saw Baker's Island bearing west. At 
9.30, came to anchor in Salem Harbor, 

Of Salem 103 

cleared decks, and saluted the town. Thus 
ends the cruise of one hundred and eighteen 

The preceding extracts from the com- 
mander's journal will serve to show, not 
only the manner of life on board a privateer, 
but the courage and daring of the officers 
and crew. What was true in one case was 
equally true of them all. 

One of the fiercest naval engagements 
during the War of 18 12 was fought by Cap- 
tain Benjamin Upton, of Salem, in the pri- 
vate armed brig Montgomery, of 165 tons, 
armed with eighteen guns, against a large 
English packet-brig with troops. This battle 
was fought off Surinam, December 5, 1812. 
The English brig, on sighting the American 
vessel, hauled up her courses and bore down 
toward her. After shots had been ex- 
changed. Captain Upton ordered his antago- 
nist to send a boat on board, which he 
refused to do. Then commenced a terrible 
conflict. The Montgomery delivered her 
broadside, which was promptly returned by 
the Englishman. The fight was commenced 

I04 The Old Shipmasters 

at 3 P.M. and continued until 8 p.m., when 
the English brig laid the Montgomery aboard 
on the starboard waist, the port anchor 
catching in her after-gun port, the enemy's 
spritsail-yard and jib-boom sweeping over 
the waist guns. Under this condition of 
things, the Montgomery kept up a fire of mus- 
ketry and such guns as could be brought to 
bear, which was returned with musketry by 
regular platoons of soldiers. In this way the 
fight continued for nearly an hour. The 
Montgomery finally filled her foretopsail and 
became disengaged from the enemy, break- 
ing his anchor, making a hole in the Mont- 
gomery's deck, breaking five stanchions, 
and staving in ten feet of bulwark, with 
standing rigging much cut up. She hauled 
off for repairs, having several men killed and 
a large number wounded ; among the latter 
were Captain Upton and Lieutenant John 
Edwards. It was thought prudent to go 
north into cooler weather on account of the 
wounded. The enemy was right glad to 
escape. On the deck of the Montgomery 
were found three boarding-pikes, one mus- 

Of Salem 105 

ket, and two pots of combustible material 
belonging to the enemy. At one time the 
Montgomery was on fire, but the flames were 

The Montgomery was afterwards com- 
manded by Captain Joseph Strout and was 
captured by his Majesty's ship La Hoge 
(seventy-four guns) and taken to Halifax. 
The records make mention of the following 
incident : "When Captain Strout, with his 
son, who was with him, was going along- 
side of the ship on the launch, another son, 
a prisoner on board, hailed the father and 
asked where mother was." 


Fight between the Chesapeake and the Shannon — Bodies of Comman- 
der Lawrence and Lieutenant Ludlow Brought to Salem from 
Halifax in Brig Henry — Crew and Officers All Sea Captains — Im- 
pressive Funeral Services and Imposing Procession — The Bodies 
Entombed in Salem. 

nPHE battle between the Chesapeake and 
* Shannon, fought on the ist of June, 
1813, was, perhaps, the bloodiest and most 
desperate of any naval engagement during 
the war. What made the whole affair more 
solemn and impressive, not only to those 
who were to be the active participants in 
the fight, but to the anxious ones on shore, 
was the formal and methodical way in which 
the two frigates met by previous arrange- 
ment. They closed in upon each other like 
two wild beasts, although the officers and 
men of the respective ships had had no 
ill-will toward each other. It was nothing 
more or less than an international duel — the 


The Old Shipmasters of Salem 107 

prestige of national pride and courage being 
the prize for which each side contended. 

But the Chesapeake did not lose the great 
stake for which she fought, certainly not in 
the better and truer sense of that word, al- 
though she was compelled to strike her 
colors to the English frigate. Lawrence, 
the brave commander, and his first officer, 
Ludlow, showed to their admiring country- 
men and to the world that they were made 
of the kind of stuff of which heroes are 
composed. It was a mere accident, after 
all, that gave the victory to the Shannon — 
a few lucky or unlucky shots. The battle 
really took nothing from the prestige of the 
American Navy. It was fought off Boston 
harbor, and was plainly seen from Legge's 
Hill, in Marblehead, by citizens of that town 
and of Salem, and the heavy connonading 
was also distinctly heard. No officer was left 
on the deck of the Chesapeake undisabled 
higher in rank than a midshipman. The ex- 
pression of Lawrence, as he lay mortally 
wounded, "Don't give up the ship!" has 
passed down in, history, where it will remain 

io8 The Old Shipmasters 

as an incentive to patriotism for all coming 

Several weeks elapsed before a detailed 
account of the battle was received in Salem 
and in Boston. The Shannon took the 
Chesapeake to Halifax, where Lawrence died 
from his wounds on the 5th of July. Lieu- 
tenant Augustus C. Ludlow was also a 
victim of the fight. 

The members of the Salem Marine Society 
and other citizens met together and made 
arrangements for the recovery of the re- 
mains of the officers named. Captain George 
Crowninshield fitted and fully equipped the 
brig Henry at his own expense, and sailed 
for Halifax on the 9th day of August with, 
perhaps, the most notable crew that has 
ever left an American port, — every one, 
with possibly one exception, having been 
a shipmaster. 

The officers and crew were as follows: 
Captain George Crowninshield, command- 
der; Holten J. Breed, first officer; Samuel 
Briggs^ second officer ; crew : Benjamin 
Upton, Jeduthun Upton, Jr., John Sinclair, 





Of Salem 109 

Joseph L. Lee, Stephen Burchmore, Thomas 
Bowditch, Thomdike Proctor; stewards : 
Mark Messervey, Nathaniel Cummings. The 
brig returned after an absence of eleven 
days with the bodies of Lawrence and Lud- 
low. Meanwhile great preparations had 
been made for the funeral, and on Monday, 
August 23, 181 3, it took place. Captains 
Hull, Stttftrt* Bainbridge, Blakely, Creighton, 
and Parker, of the United States Navy, were 
the pallbearers for Captain Lawrence, and 
the same number of naval officers acted in 
like capacity for Lieutenant Ludlow. A cor- 
respondent of a local paper of that day 
writes as follows of the sad occasion : 

"The day was unclouded, — as if no inci- 
dent should be wanting to crown the mind 
with melancholy and woe, — the wind blew 
from the same direction and the sea pre- 
sented the same unruffled surface as was 
exhibited to our anxious view when, on the 
memorable first day of June, we saw the im- 
mortal Lawrence proudly conducting his 
ship to action. . . . The brig Henry, 
containing the precious relics, clad in sable, 

no The Old Shipmasters 

lay at anchor in the harbor. At half-past 
12 o'clock they were placed in barges, and, 
preceded by a long procession of boats filled 
with seamen uniformed in blue jackets and 
trousers, with a blue ribbon on their hats 
bearing the motto of ' Free Trade and Sail- 
ors' Rights,' were rowed by minute-strokes 
to the end of India (now Phillip's) wharf, 
where the hearses were ready to receive the 
honored dead. From the time the boats left 
the brig until the bodies were landed, the 
United States brig Rattlesnake and the brig 
Henry, alternately fired minute-guns. 

"The immense concourse of citizens 
which covered the wharves, stores, and 
housetops to view the boats, the profound 
silence which pervaded the atmosphere, 
broken only by the sad reverberations of 
the minute-guns, rendered this part of the 
solemnities peculiarly grand and impressive. 
On the bodies being placed upon the hearses, 
they were covered with the colors which 
they had so lately and so signally honored, 
and conveyed at a suitable distance for the 
procession to form. 

Of Salem m 

"The procession was under command of 
Major John Saunders, and moved to slow 
and solemn music, escorted by the Salem 
Light Infantry, Captain James C. King, 
through Derby, Essex, and other streets to 
Rev. Mr. Spaulding's meeting-house on 
Howard Street, where the funeral oration 
was pronounced by Hon. Joseph Story, the 
burial service being conducted by Rev. Mr. 
Henshaw of Marblehead, Captain Peabody's 
company of artillery firing minute-guns from 
Washington Square. 

"Conspicuous in the procession and in 
the church were a large number of naval and 
military officers, also the Salem Marine and 
East India Marine societies, wearing badges, 
with the Masonic and other organizations. 
On arriving at the meeting-house, the coffins 
containing the remains were taken from the 
hearses and placed in the center of the 
church by the seamen who rowed them 
ashore, and who stood during the ceremony 
leaning upon them in an attitude of mourn- 
ing. The church was decorated with cypress 
and evergreen, and the names of Lawrence 

112 The Old Shipmasters of Salem 

and Ludlow appeared in gilded letters in 
front of the pulpit." A contemporary ac- 
count also says: " The music was good and 
appropriate, and the eulogy was such an 
one as made veterans weep." 

The bells in Boston were also tolled at the 
same time, and minute-guns were fired from 
the frigate Constitution and other war ves- 
sels in Boston harbor. The bodies were 
temporarily deposited in the tomb of Cap- 
tain George Crowninshield in the Howard 
Street burial-ground, and on the 3d of 
September of the same year they were 
conveyed to Charlestown, and thence to 
New York by land, for interment in Trinity 

In 1849, the remains of Lawrence were 
disinterred and removed to the site of the 
present mausoleum in New York, erected to 
his memory. The inscription it bears is 
familiar throughout the country, — in which 
is incorporated the immortal sentiment of 
the dying hero: " Don't give up the ship! " 


Captain Thomas Fuller — His Capture by Pirates in 1832 — The Cap- 
tain's Last IWeeting with One of the Pirates — His Narrow Escape 
from Mutineers — Capture of Two Salem Ships by IVlalays. 

T^HE story of the capture of the brig Mexi- 
can, of Salem, by pirates in 1832, is a 
matter of history, so but little need be said 
about it. It may be well, however, to state 
that after the pirates had secured their booty 
(|2o,ooo) from the brig, they fastened the 
officers and crew below, fired the vessel, 
fled to their schooner, the Panda, and made 
good their escape. The crew saw through 
an opening in the ceiling that the brig was 
on fire, and that a terrible fate was before 
them unless something were done, and done 
quickly, for their relief. Captain Butman 
called to mind that there was a flue or ven- 
tilator from the cabin up through the deck. 
An opening was soon made through the 



114 The Old Shipmasters 

partition leading to the cabin, and he mount- 
ed through the aperture, gained the deck, 
and extinguished the flames, which had 
been set in the steward's galley, and from 
which great volumes of smoke were issuing. 
He was just in season; a moment's delay 
and the sails and rigging would have been 
on fire, and the fate of all on board sealed. 

Captain Thomas Fuller was, at the time 
of the capture, a mere boy, and he was 
roughly used by the pirates, one of them 
knocking him down because he refused to 
do his bidding. When the pirates were ar- 
raigned for trial at Boston, Fuller was a wit- 
ness, and was asked by the Court if he could 
identify any of the prisoners. At that mo- 
ment his eye fell on the desperado Ruiz, 
who had maltreated him on the Mexican, 
and quickly turning upon him he dealt him 
a severe blow. This was the kind of "point- 
ing out " he gave, not only to the Court but 
to the pirate. Judge Story, in order to main- 
tain the dignity of the Court, was compelledto 
reprimand Fuller, but no further notice was 
taken of the assault, if such it could be called. 

Jacob Crowninshield, merchant and member of Congress 

Mr. Crowninshield was appointed Secretary of the Navy by President 

Jefferson, but declined the honor. 

From an oil painting by Robert Hinkley. 

Of Salem 115 

Mr. Fuller was subsequently one of Salem's 
foremost shipmasters, and sailed for many 
years as captain of some of her famous ships. 
To-day he is hale and hearty, though nearly 
ninety-one years of age. He is courteous 
and affable, but no one can fail to see that 
he has a dignity and a bearing which at once 
mark him as a man born to command. His 
experiences on the ocean were many times 
of a thrilling nature. On the loth of May, 
1855, he sailed as master of the bark Lu- 
oilla, of Salem, for the East Indies. The 
cargo consisted of gunpowder, cotton cloth, 
and specie to the amount of twenty-three 
thousand dollars. He proceeded on his 
voyage until the 19th day of June, when, 
from information received from his officers 
and from one or two of the crew, he became 
satisfied that nearly all of the first officer's 
watch, and perhaps others, were maturing 
a scheme to murder him and capture the 
vessel and the treasure on board. This in- 
formation was cautiously and secretly given 
to him, as the informants were trembling for 
their own safety. 

ii6 The Old Shipmasters 

Captain Fuller was not long in planning 
his line of action. He knew that he could 
rely on his officers and on the steward, so 
he gave orders to them to arm themselves 
with knives and pistols, and stand ready for 
duty at a moment's call. He had two blun- 
derbusses in the cabin, which he loaded 
nearly to the muzzle. The opportune mo- 
ment came at last, and sallying forth with 
those named above, the leaders in the plot 
were " covered " by the firearms and ordered 
to surrender. They were so taken by sur- 
prise that they offered no resistance, and 
were handcuffed without trouble. The 
names of those placed in irons were Robert 
Sands, Jean L. Harvey, and Abner Emerson. 
Presumably these were assumed names, as 
the men were "foreigners." 

Captain Fuller immediately ordered the 
remainder of his men aft so as to have bet- 
ter control of them, his purpose being to 
work the vessel into the nearest port. Being 
then in latitude 7° 59' north, he steered for 
Pernambuco. After the three men had been 
put in irons, they declared that the other 

Of Salem 117 

watch was equally mutinous. The captain, 
having no means by which he could con- 
vince himself that this statement was not 
true, and feeling that the vessel and prop- 
erty were in danger, as well as the lives of 
the officers, took every precaution possible 
for safety and protection. The Lucilla ar- 
med in Pernambuco in due time, and the 
condition of things was at once reported to 
Mr. Lilley, the American Consul, on the 
loth of July. By order of that official, the 
prisoners were removed from the vessel, and 
also another seaman named Grant Carroll, 
who had been one of the conspirators, but 
who, on being guaranteed immunity from 
punishment, signified his willingness to di- 
vulge the whole plot. 

At the hearing the next day, three of the 
crew were examined as witnesses. Henry 
Ewen testified that there was a plot in the 
mate's watch to kill the captain and throw 
him overboard, and that the mate had agreed 
to take the vessel into any port the muti- 
neers chose. This information was given 
to him by James Rogers, after he was re- 

ii8 The Old Shipmasters 

lieved from the helm and had gone forward. 
They wanted him to join them, and he re- 
fused, saying that if they wanted to do any 
murder they would have to do it themselves. 
The same night Robert Sands told him to 
say nothing about what had been told him, 
and that they were going to accomplish 
what they set out to do. The next day 
he told witness that he was going to cut 
the lower studding-sail halyards, for it was 
their intention, when the mate came for- 
ward, that one of their number should cut 
him down with an axe while the other 
came aft with pistols to put an end to the 
captain, second mate, cook, and steward. 

Question by Consul Lilley : "Do you 
know to whom these two pistols, one dirk 
knife, bag of bullets, four boxes percussion- 
caps, one powder flask, two canisters of 
powder and hatchet, belong ? " 

"Yes, they were in the possession ot 
Jean Louis Harvey and Abner Emerson." 

James Rogers testified that Sands asked 
him if it was agreeable to him to have the 
' ' old man " thrown overboard. He, Rogers, 

Of Salem 119 

told him that he wanted two or three days 
to consider the matter. He asked who was 
going to take charge of the vessel, and was 
told that Magoun, the chief mate, would 
take her into any port they wished. Wit- 
ness asked why they wanted to kill the 
captain, and Sands said they wanted better 

Grant Carroll testified that he was urged 
to join in the meeting, that he asked what 
good they were going to get by it, and was 
informed that they would get four or five 
thousand dollars apiece. He was further 
informed that all who did not join in the 
plot would be killed as well as the officers. 
The mate was to be called forward that 
night and asked to join them. If he refused, 
they would kill him. Then they would 
wait until the other watch was called at 
four o'clock in the morning, and when the 
second mate came on deck they would kill 
him, after which they were going down into 
the cabin to kill the captain or wait until he 
came on deck. Nothing, however, was 
done that night. The next day another 

I20 The Old Shipmasters 

plan was formed. Witness testified that 
when he went to the wheel to relieve Har- 
vey, he (Harvey) gave him a pistol loaded 
with two balls with which to shoot the cap- 
tain when he came on deck to take the sun. 
Robert Sands stood ready with a double- 
barrelled pistol to shoot the second mate 
when he came on deck. Harvey was at 
work on a sail on the lee side, and motioned 
to witness to shoot as the captain came up, 
but as there was a misunderstanding be- 
tween them, the one forward waiting for the 
one aft to fire, the plan failed. Harvey asked 
him why he did not shoot the captain, and 
he said he could not. 

The mutineers finally agreed to wait until 
they got to Sumatra before they made an 
attack, as they could get Malays enough to 
help them. Witness further testified that if 
the mate did join them they intended to kill 
him after they had got the ship as far as they 
wished, as he lived down in Salem, where 
the captain also lived, and knew the owners, 
and they were afraid he would tell. After 
further testimony had been given, corrob- 

Of Salem 121 

orative of that which had already been 
offered, the accused were adjudged guilty. 
They were subsequently sent to the United 
States by the consul, where they were tried, 
convicted, and sentenced to a long term of 
imprisonment. The chief officer, Mr. Ma- 
goun, was found blameless, having had no 
hand in the plot. Captain Fuller, after re- 
cruiting his crew up to the maximum num- 
ber, proceeded on his voyage, with the 
inward satisfaction that, by his own cool- 
ness and courage, he had saved not only 
his life but much valuable property. 

The shipmasters were constantly in the 
path of danger and disaster while sailing on 
their long voyages. The whale-ship Friend- 
ship, Charles M. Endicott, master, while at 
Quallah-Battoo was attacked by piratical 
JVlalays. The first mate, Charles Knight, 
was killed, and some of the crew seriously 
wounded. The captain was on shore at the 
time. Noticing some unusual movements 
on board his ship, he resolved to return to 
her in a boat with such of the crew as he 
could find on shore; but while on the way 

122 The Old Shipmasters 

he observed three Malay boats, containing 
in all some sixty men, pulling for the ship. 
He saw that it would be useless for him to 
contend against such odds, so he headed 
his boat for Muckis, twenty-five miles dis- 
tant, for assistance. 

There he found three vessels, among them 
the brig Governor Endicott, of Salem, H. H. 
Jenks, master, and the ship James Monroe, 
of New York, J. Porter, master. These ves- 
sels at once sailed to Quallah-Battoo, to 
rescue Captain Endicott's ship from its cap- 
tors. Meanwhile the ship had been plun- 
dered of its specie and other valuables. At 
the time of the attack, four of the crew 
jumped overboard arid swam a distance of 
two miles before finding a safe place to land. 
On the arrival of the vessels named, an attack 
was made on the town, and the Friendship 
was boarded and recaptured. Her voyage 
having been broken up, the captain set sail 
for Salem, where he arrived July i6, 1831. 

The Eclipse, Captain Charles P. Wllkins, 
of Salem, master, had a similar experience 
on the coast of Sumatra in 1838. While the 

Of Salem 123 

mate and four seamen were ashore, a large 
number of Malays boarded the vessel and 
killed the captain. The crew escaped, some 
by ascending the rigging, and others by 
swimming ashore. The Malays plundered 
the ship of everything movable and then 
left. The men aloft descended, took a boat 
and rowed to a French bark lying at an ad- 
jacent port. The next morning, with assist- 
ance rendered by the French vessel, the crew 
returned to the Eclipse and found her desert- 
ed. The mate took charge, and during the 
following night set sail and left the island. 


The Essential Qualities in a Shipmaster — Journal of Captain Stuart — 
Ship Hard and Fast on Shore — Four of the Crew Sick — The 
Situation Truly Deplorable — Supposed Pirates Prove to be 
Friendly Dutchmen — One of the Siclt Sailors Dies — Again at Sea 
— Strenuous Experiences in Gales of Wind — Visit from Captain 
Derby of the Ship Margaret — Captain Carnes Discovers Pepper 
Growing Wild on the Coast of Sumatra — Salem IMonopolizes the 
Pepper Trade. 

A SHIPMASTER might be a skillful navi- 

gator and a strict disciplinarian and 

still fail of success, if he lacked one great 

essential— a practical knowledge of business 

and the laws governing trade in different 

countries, together with a ready faculty to 

dispose of his cargo and purchase another 

to the best advantage for home shipment. 

Occasionally, however, the owners sent a 

"supercargo" on a voyage to transact the 

necessary business, and to attend to the 

clerical work. 

The journal of Captain James Stuart, which 

The Old Shipmasters of Salem 125 

he kept on a voyage to the coast of Java, 
is of surpassing interest. He sailed from 
Salem, September 25, 1801, in the ketch 
Three Friends, for Mauritius, Batavia, and a 
market. Extracts from 


"Judging myself up with the east of Ma- 
dura, hove to. At midnight made sail and 
stood off and on till 7 a.m. To my great 
surprise found we were driven quite to the 
eastward on the coast of two small islands. 
Ends light breezes. 

"Jan. 13. — At 2 P.M., the wind having 
died away and finding we still lose ground, 
brought to in 25 fathoms water in fine sand, 
the current running by log 2^ miles E. by S. 
At 7 A.M., having a small breeze from the 
south'd made sail with the intention of pass- 
ing to north'd and west'd of the northern- 
most isle, but the wind falling off, brought 
to again. I went on shore ; could find no 
fresh water ; shot several small birds. This 
island is surrounded with sand shoals, 
stretching on the N.W. part \\- miles intg 

126 The Old Shipmasters 

the sea on the eastern, northern and south- 
ern parts half a mile. Saw several fishing 
prows. Went on board. Ends wind N. W. 

"Jan. 14. — Begins with fresh breezes from 
northwest. Came alongside two prows 
with turtle. These people appear not so 
ferocious as the people of Java. Finding it 
impossible to round the island, hoisted out 
the pinnace and sent her to seaward to see 
if we could pass to leeward. 

"Jan. 15. — At 2 P.M., by signal from the 
boat, found that a safe landing-place had 
been found, weighed anchor and stood 
down ; passed between the islands, having 
from 12 to 14 fathoms water; hereabouts all 
sandy. Hauled upon the wind with inten- 
tions to pass to the westward of Gilbonn (?), 
but the wind heading, obliged us to bear 
off and pass between that and Hog Island. 
At 6 A.M. cleared both, being in a fair way for 
the Straits of Bally. At night heavy thun- 
der and lightning with very black clouds. 
At 7 A.M. the wind very light and inclining 
to southward ; the straits in sight, bearing 
south-southwest, distance twelve leagues. 

William Gray (1760-1825). 

Mr. Gray owned, in 1807, fifteen ships, seven barks, thirteen brigs, and one 

schooner, or one-fourth of the tonnage of the port of Salem. His stately 

mansion was subsequently occupied as a hotel (the Essex Coffee 

House). Mr. Gray was elected Lieut. -Governor of Massachusetts 

in 1810-11. 

From the original portrait by Stuart. 

Of Salem 127 

"Jan, 16. — Begins with fresh, contrary 
wind ; beating into the straits ; having got 
half way in, the wind falling off and current 
against us, came to anchor in 23 fathoms, 
sandy ; the Java shore distant one half mile. 
At half past 6 p.m., the current having 
shifted, weighed anchor and drove down 
with the stream ; light airs from the Java 
coast ; at dark lost sight of the Margaret, 
which ship we had previously seen. The 
wind being from the western quarter, car- 
ried us quite on the Bally side of the current, 
carrying us round a point, and shortly after 
within a cable's length of the shore. We 
drove along the shore a few minutes when 
we found 30 fathoms water. Let go 
the stream anchor and brought her up at 
about 150 feet distance from the rockS; 
Here we rode a short time. At 9 p.m. came 
a light air off the land, the boat being ahead, 
cut the cable, not having time or opportu- 
nity to heave it up ; in a moment the wind 
died away, and came right on shore. All 
sail being set, she took aback and in an 
instant she struck. 

128 The Old Shipmasters 

"We immediately hove over our after 
guns, started all the water casks and wood 
off deck, and, in short, everything that could 
tend to lighten her, but it was all to no pur- 
pose. She remained hard and fast. It 
was supposed little could be done on our 
part, the current running five to six miles an 
hour, the wind, what there was, right on 
shore; four men sick. Fired minute-guns as 
signals of distress ; was answered by the 
Margaret, who, owing to her superiority in 
sailing, had anchored in Palambang, also by 
the Dutch battery. Our situation at this 
time was truly deplorable, driven on shore 
on this savage and inhuman coast of Bally, 
our vessel on her beam-end, and four of our 
men sick and not able to work one of our 
great guns ; the idea of losing our ship and 
cargo, ourselves massacred by the savages, 
when we were in some measure relieved 
by the appearance of Captain Derby from 
the Margaret, with six men, who, on learn- 
ing our situation, left us and went back to 
the Dutch settlement to procure prows in 
order to lighten us. 

Of Salem 129 

" At 3 A.M. saw three prows approaching 
us fast, full of men ; concluded they were the 
savages. Finding it impossible in our weak 
state to defend ourselves, ordered all the 
powder and arms down the forecastle, which 
was closed, and which I knew we could 
defend to the last, being accessible only 
in one place, naturally we supposed they 
would not set fire to the after part of the 
ship, for sake of plunder, and if they did it 
would be as well to remain where we were. 
Everything being in this train, and they 
within hail, 1 ordered one of the boats 
alongside. It was manned by Dutch sol- 
diers and they were sent by the Governor of 
Palambang to defend us from the savages. 
The officers came on board and ordered all 
the black soldiers to make fires on the beach 
abreast the vessel. In the morning came 
Captain Derby with boats, prows, etc. 
Landed all our spare spars and carried them 
to slack water; carried our short anchor out 
and took out two prows of coffee. Ends 
fine weather. 

"Jan. 18.— Begins fine and pleasant. At 

13° The Old Shipmasters 

8 P.M., the tide having risen to its usual 
height, hove her off ; not having any wind, 
lay at anchor all night. In the morning 
brought on board all our spars, and at lo 
A.M., coming up a breeze, weighed anchor 
and stood toward Palambang. At 5 p.m. 
came to anchor in six fathoms. 

"Jan. 19. — Went on shore with Captain 
Derby to wait on the governor and thank 
him for his assistance to us. When we 
landed we found his coach waiting, which 
carried us to his house, a sort of castle, situ- 
ated in the fort, having a drawbridge, over 
which we passed. Being introduced to the 
governor, we were not only pleased with 
his manner, but surprised with his generous 
and open behavior. The pleasure with 
which he beheld us safe in his truly hospita- 
ble house is not easily described, suffice it 
to say that during the whole of our stay 
here we had the happiness of seeing his 
friendship towards us daily increase. Nor 
did he even stop here, but loaded us with 
presents on our departure, when, after we 
had procured wood and water and fresh 

Of Salem 131 

stock and satisfied all around us, we set sail 
on the afternoon of Jan. 22. 

"Jan. 23. — Begins squally, with rain at 
3 P.M., the current setting south ; weighed 
and stood out ; light wind, made small way. 
At midnight died John Kenny of relapsed 
fever and dysentery. Buried him in the 

"Jan. 24. — Begins and continues with 
light winds. At 7 p.m. the S. E. part of the 
island of Java bore N. W., distance seven 
leagues. Three men sick ; the ship Mar- 
garet in company. 

"Jan. 25. — Begins pleasant; at i p.m. 
felt an uncommon motion ; sounded and 
found no bottom ; concluded it to be the 
effects of an earthquake ; at 2 felt two small 
shocks more, all of which was felt by the 
Margaret. Heavy swell and fresh gales ; 
obliged to take in sail at sundry times. Re- 
duced all sail except the close-reefed topsail; 
at 3 a.m. experienced a very heavy gust of 
wind ; began to take in the topsails as fast 
as possible ; at 4 a.m. sounded the pumps 
and found she had eighteen inches water ; 

132 The Old Shipmasters 

took in mainsail and foretop-mast staysail; 
remaining under the foresail; all hands to 
the pumps, without distinction; she still 
keeps gaining; took in the foresail and set 

"The water having increased to thirty 
inches in the weather pump, the wind blow- 
ing a severe hurricane, one man dead and 
three others sick, our situation was again 
deplorable. At 9 a.m. fired signals of dis- 
tress to the ship Margaret, and wore ship 
to the northward to see if she made as 
much water on the starboard side. In 
wearing, a sea broke on us and carried 
away our stern boat, some beef, a live bul- 
lock, etc. We soon found she did not leak 
so bad on this side. At meridian freed her; 
could receive no assistance from the Mar- 
garet. Ends hard gales. 

"Jan. 26. — Begins with heavy gales and 
high sea; wore ship to southward; all hands 
to the pumps. At 3 a.m., thirty inches of 
water; wore ship to northward; at 10 a.m. 
freed her again; the water thick with sugar; 
wore ship to southward; started the re- 

Of Salem 133 

mainder of our water off deck; plenty of 
coffee coming up the pumps; shipping much 
water. Ends with high seas and heavy 

"Jan. 27. — Begins with violent gales and 
high sea; everything washed off deck. At 
3 P.M., the water having risen to thirty- 
two inches, obliged us to wear ship to north- 
ward, in order, if possible, to free her. At 7 
P.M., both pumps choked with coffee. Hav- 
ing reduced the well to fifteen inches, at 9 
P.M. got the starboard pump to work; kept 
pumping all night until 4 a.m. we freed 
her. All hands took some raw smoked-beef, 
bread, and cherry rum, and dropped asleep, 
being quite exhausted, not having slept or 
been off deck for sixty hours. At 7 a.m., the 
wind having died away, Captain Derby with 
some difficulty came on board; found a leak 
at the end of the transom; cut away the 
quarter badges and found several more ; 
carpenters employed stopping them, sev- 
eral hands from the Margaret lending as- 
sistance. Ends moderate with light seas. 
Island of Lombok bearing N., distant nine 

134 The Old Shipmasters 

or ten leagues, and some land to eastward 
also in sight. 

"Jan. 28.— Begins moderate; employed 
clearing the pump-well and putting the ves- 
sel in order; all night moderate. . . . 
At 8 A.M. the west end of Lombok bore 
N.N.E., distance twelve leagues, from which 
I take my departure, the ship Margaret still 
in company. There is a coral bank on the 
Bally side which runs off three-quarters of a 
mile; my mate found it only two feet (depth 
of water); here the tide flows about twelve 
feet. This shoal I have not found in any 
charts which I have seen. The currents 
run here five to six miles an hour. . . . 

" As I find myself perplexed about cross- 
ing the equator — not having any directions 
on homeward-bound journals on board- 
after surveying the chart and coast of 
America, the northwest direction of which 
changes the southeast trades, especially in 
summer, into a more south wind, the set of 
the trade rushing towards the coast. The 
increased rapidity and westerly character of 
the current formed by these winds all tend- 

Of Salem 135 

ing to facilitate a passage, made me deter- 
mine to cross the equator in 38° longitude. 
I was not disappointed. . . . At 4 p.m., 
July 15, 1802, 'made Nantucket off the 
wind-mill and hauled to Gay Head, it being 
hazy.' July 16, arrived home." 


The first vessel that ever sailed direct from 
this country to Sumatra was from Salem, 
and a Salem captain commanded the last 
American vessel that brought pepper from 
that island. 

Captain Jonathan Carnes touched at the 
port of Bencoolen in 1793, and while there 
learned that pepper grew wild on the north- 
western coast of Sumatra. On his voyage 
home it is quite probable that he built many 
air-castles touching the immense wealth 
which would accrue to himself and his native 
city by trading with the Malays and monopo- 
lizing the traffic in their great staple. Nor 
were his wildest dreams unrealized, as the 
subsequent commercial relations with that 
port bore ample proof 

136 The Old Shipmasters 

He returned to Salem full of plans, schemes, 
and hopes. He was not long in imparting 
his important discovery to Jonathan Peele, 
one of Salem's wealthy merchants, who 
quickly saw the advantages to be derived 
from carrying out the plans formulated by 
the sagacious Carnes. Mr. Peele soon had 
a schooner built suited to the trade contem- 
plated, and she was placed in command of 
Carnes. This vessel was named the Rajah, 
and was only 130 tons burden, and carried 
four guns, with a crew of ten men. She 
left port in 1795, the destination of the ves- 
sel being kept a profound secret, even to 
neighboring merchants. The clearance pa- 
pers of the vessel showed that her objective 
point was India. The cargo consisted of 
two pipes of brandy, fifty-eight cases of gin, 
twelve tons of iron, tobacco, salmon, etc. 

Eighteen months passed by and no tidings 
of the Rajah came to the anxious Mr. Peele, 
until one day, when it was more than prob- 
able he had been peering seaward with his 
trusty spyglass, she was discovered coming 
up the harbor. The anchor was soon let 

Of Salem 137 

go and a boat conveyed Captain Carnes to 
the wharf, where he received hearty greet- 
ings from the Owner and his many friends. 
The curious were not long in finding out 
the character of the cargo, which proved to 
be pepper in bulk, and was sold at a profit 
of seven hundred per cent. It was the first 
cargo of pepper imported into this country. 
The merchants of Salem were anxious 
to find out where the cargo came from, 
but the matter still remained a secret. As 
the Rajah was being prepared for another 
voyage, the Salem merchants became more 
curious and manifested a determination to 
find out Captain Carnes's destination; so 
they fitted out and despatched several ves- 
sels for Bencoolen, at which port it was 
known the captain had received his first in- 
formation about his new port of trade. But 
they were not successful, and their ventures 
had to be turned in other directions. The 
secret, however, was not of long duration. 
At the opening of the last century the mys- 
tery was swept away, and traffic with Sum- 
atra was no longer a monopoly. 

138 The Old Shipmasters 

The brig Rajah and several other vessels 
subsequently made successful voyages to 
the island; among the most notable were 
those of the ship America, v/hich made 
two voyages under the respective com- 
mands of Captain John Crowninshield and 
Captain Jeremiah Briggs. On the first voy- 
age in 1 801, she brought to Salem 815,792 
pounds of pepper, and on the second, in 1802, 
760,000 pounds of the same article. The 
aggregate duty paid on the cargoes of these 
two voyages amounted to 1103,874.03. 

The trade with Sumatra soon assumed 
such importance that a large part of the pep- 
per consumed in this country was distributed 
from the port of Salem, and, in fact, many 
other countries had to depend largely on 
Salem merchants for their supply of pepper. 
As has been well said: " Salem was not only 
the first at Sumatra, but the first to make it 
safe for others to follow her lead, and as 
long as American vessels visited that coast 
their commanders were provided with copies 
of the charts prepared by these Salem ship- 
masters." In vessels of but 150 tons those 

Of Salem 139 

early captains boldly set sail for ports never 
before visited by Americans, and without 
chart or guide of any kind made their way 
amid coral reefs and along foreign shores. 

As late as 1831, when a United States 
Government vessel sailed for the East Indies, 
it was stated, in the journal kept, that it was 
the original intention of the commander to 
prepare charts and sailing directions for the 
guidance of other mariners, but that he 
found this duty had been much more ably 
performed than it could have been by him 
with his limited materials. For this im- 
portant service the whole world is indebted 
to Captain Charles M. Endicott and James 
D. Gillis of Salem. 


Voyage of Captain Nichols in the Ship Active — His Journal Replete 
with Instructive Information — Description of the City of Funchal 
— Catching Fish — St. Paul's Island — Pen-Pictures of Colombo — 
Ceylon and its Coast — Meeting with Difficulty in Finding Market 
for Cargo — Arrives at Madras — George Cleveland's Notes on 

'T'HE ship y^^^/t)^^ of Salem, George Nichols, 
* master, was in London in 1801, with a 
cargo of Surat cotton, which was not al- 
lowed to be landed and sold until Captain 
Nichols had — under protest it is safe to say 
— acquiesced in the arbitrary domination of 
the rich East India Company. After dis- 
posing of his cargo and taking on board 
various kinds of goods, he proceeded to sea, 
bound for Madeira. 

THE captain's STORY 

"We sailed with a pleasant breeze from 

the south'd, which continued to carry us 

clear of the English Channel, bound for Ma- 


The Old Shipmasters of Salem 141 

deira with spice and sundry kinds of English 
goods adapted to the India market, with 
bills of exchange to purchase wine at Ma- 
deira. No vessel is permitted to carry goods 
from England direct to the East Indies, as 
this is the entire privilege of the company 
(East India), but, to avoid the risk, most 
vessels will clear out from England for Ma- 
deira or Teneriffe, and thence clear for any 
port they may wish. 

"January 7, 1801. — Anchored safely in 
Funchal roads. This is the only port which 
is visited by foreigners. It is situated on 
the S.E. part of the island. In the summer 
season this port is considered as being safe 
for shipping, but dangerous in the winter, 
on account of the frequent gales of wind 
from the south, at which time it is necessary 
for all ships to leave the roads and put to 
sea. The town of Funchal is the metropolis 
of this island, and it is situated in a delight- 
ful valley, in the form of a crescent. Its 
streets are very narrow and paved. The 
houses are principally of brick and painted 
white, One of the greatest inconveniences 

142 The Old Shipmasters 

is in landing, which is upon a beach of sand 
and small stones, where there is always a 
surf, and, provided there is much wind in 
the roads, the surf is so great as to prevent 
any communication between the shipping 
and the shore. Loading or discharging a 
vessel is done by boats constructed for that 
purpose, which will carry from five to eight 
tons of goods each. The town of Funchal 
contains about 15,000 inhabitants, principally 
Portuguese, who are lazy and indolent to 
the extreme. The merchants are, in general, 
English and Scotch. Those with whom I 
transacted my business were of the firm of 
Newton, Guardon, & Murdock, one of the 
first houses in the island. 

"The produce of the island is principally 
wine, of which article there are 16,000 pipes 
annually exported. Provided it was inhab- 
ited by any other people than Portuguese, 
it would produce, exclusive of wine, every 
necessary of life; instead of which, they are 
dependent upon other nations for almost 
everything they want. 1 think this might 
be remedied by banishing the greater part 

Of Salem 143 

of the many priests and friars, who serve 
only to oppress the inhabitants and encour- 
age indolence. 

"The best season for visiting this island is 
in the summer, when the weather is always 
warm and pleasant, and the island under 
a state of cultivation. 1 was never more 
pleased with any place, although it was in 
the winter season at the time of my being 
there. From the roads you have one of the 
finest prospects imaginable — the great num- 
ber of handsome seats rising one above 
another almost to the summit of the highest 
mountains, which are frequently lost in the 
clouds, together with the beautiful verdure, 
which appeared upon every part. 

" Having completed my business I sailed 
from this place for Colombo on the nth of 
January. . . . Saw Palma and Ferro, the 
two most westward of the Canary Islands. 
On account of steady breezes, shaped my 
course to go about fifty or sixty leagues to 
the westward of them, and had strong gales 
and tolerably pleasant weather to the lati- 
tude of 5° North, where I left the N.E. trades; 

144 The Old Shipmasters 

thence to the equator had a great deal of 
calm, flattering weather, and most part of 
the time heavy rain, which enabled me to 
fill up my empty casks with fresh water. 

"On the eighteenth day from Madeira, 
crossed the equator in longitude 21" 31' west 
of Greenwich; at same time met the S.E. 
trades. . . . Brisk gales and pleasant 
weather to latitude of about 30°, when 1 left 
the trade winds; thence to latitude 38° had 
light breezes and variable; after that had 
most part of the time strong breezes from 
the westward until I arrived at the island of 
St. Paul, keeping between the latitude 38° 
and 39° 30', which island 1 saw on the 
24th of March, having been from Madeira 
seventy-two days. It is a small but very 
high island, and may easily be seen at the 
distance of fifteen leagues in clear weather. 
It abounds in seals and its coast with fish. 
The weather being moderate, 1 took four 
hands with me in the boat and went inshore 
to get some fish; being abreast of the south- 
west part of the island, was obliged to go 
close in with the surf, as the sounding is 
























o •? 


Of Salem 145 

but a very little distance off, excepting from 
the north part of the island, upon which 
part is the only landing-place. There being 
at this time a large swell, 1 did not attempt 
to go ashore, but caught in about thirty 
minutes, with three lines, ninety fish, averag- 
ing about six pounds each, which I may 
with safety say were equal to any fish 1 
ever saw. They are in form very much like 
a haddock, but in other respects different 
from any fish I have ever seen. They are 
extremely fat and of a delicious flavor. 

" Crossed the equator in longitude 79° 30' 
east of Greenwich, and from leaving Ma- 
deira 89|- days; thence to Point de Galle had 
light breezes. Friday, 17th April, saw the 
island of Ceylon, Point de Galle bearing 
east, distance four or five leagues. The 
wind being from eastward, 1 coasted along 
shore, from three to four miles distant, and 
the same day anchored off Colombo, in nine 
fathoms of water. This harbor is very easy 
of access and safe during the northeast mon- 
soons; but the southwest winds blow di- 
rectly in, which makes it very unsafe for 

146 The Old Shipmasters 

shipping in the southwest monsoons, viz., 
from the ist of May to the ist of December. 

" Colombo, which is the metropolis of the 
island of Ceylon, is situated in lat. 7° N. 
and long. 80° 6' E. of London. The com- 
merce of this place is very trifling. The 
imports are very little, but its exports are 
more considerable. The staple commodi- 
ties are cinnamon, pepper, arrack, cocoa- 
nut-oil, and cordage. The cinnamon has 
formerly been monopolized by the Dutch, 
and is at present by the English East India 
Company, who are in possession of all the 
plantations which produce it. This place is 
very seldom visited by foreigners. There 
are but few merchants here, and even these 
are not able to purchase goods to a great 
amount. Specie is so very scarce that 1 be- 
lieve it would have been impossible to have 
obtained 20,000 rupees on any terms; and 
the produce which is to be obtained is un- 
suitable for return cargoes to Europe or 

" The streets are tolerably clean, and regu- 
larly laid out. The houses are in general 

Of Salem H7 

but one story high, built of dirt and chenam. 
Still there are some which are occupied by 
the governor and principal people which are 
handsome. There are not any public edi- 
fices which deserve notice. It is said to be 
strongly fortified toward the sea, and is gar- 
risoned by a considerable number of troops. 
Its harbor is well calculated for business. 
Beef, pork, and poultry are tolerably cheap 
and plenty. The market is extremely well 
supplied with most kinds of tropical fruits 
and vegetables. 

" Having nothing further to remark, ex- 
cepting that after lying here three days with- 
out being able to sell any part of my cargo, 
I departed for the Coromandel coast, intend- 
ing to stop at Pondicherry, and from thence 
proceed for Madras. 

" I shall endeavor to describe the coast of 
Ceylon as far as it comes within my view. 
Between Point de Galle and Colombo the 
back land is very high, particularly Adona 
Peak, which may be seen in clear weather 
fifteen or sixteen leagues, but the land near 
the sea is so low as to be scarcely seen at 

148 The Old Shipmasters 

three leagues. ... In sailing this coast 
the land had a beautiful appearance, being 
very level and quite covered with cocoanut- 
trees; from which produce great quantities 
of arrack is made. After leaving Colombo I 
was prevented from approaching the coast 
of Ceylon near enough to describe it, it 
being the season for the shifting of the mon- 
soon, and the weather began to assume an 
unfavorable aspect, for which reason 1 did 
not come any nearer than just to see the 
high sand. 

"1 experienced a northerly current of 
about half a mile per hour until 1 reached 
the extreme of the island. . . . Being 
wrongly informed respecting Pondicherry, I 
stopped there expecting to find a market for 
a part of my cargo, but could not dispose 
of anything. There is not a person in the 
place doing business, and excepting the gar- 
rison of about one hundred Europeans there 
were not one hundred white persons in the 
place. The few foreign articles required 
came from Madras. 1 arrived here on the 
20th of April, and as I sailed again the 

Of Salem 149 

same day it is not in my power to say much 
respecting the place. It is well known to 
have been one of the greatest places for 
business in India when in possession of the 
French, but since it was taken by the Eng- 
lish it has been entirely neglected, as evi- 
dently appears to a person on first entering 
it. The houses are in general handsome, 
and some of them very elegant, but every- 
thing appears to be in a decayed state. Es- 
tates that were at the commencement of the 
present revolution very valuable may be 
purchased for a trifling sum. 

"The streets are handsomely laid out, 
and near the centre of the town is a large 
square, which I imagine was formerly used 
for a parade. . . . The anchorage is 
abreast of the town in from six to eight 
fathoms of water. From one and a half to 
two and a half miles off ^shore, like all other 
places on the coast, it always has a large 
surf, in which no ship's boats can land. 
They have large boats constructed for the 
purpose, which, instead of being nailed, are 
sewed together. I sailed from this place on 

I50 The Old Shipmasters 

the 26th of April, and arrived at Madras in 
about twelve hours. The ' Presidency ' is 
considered as being one of the greatest com- 
mercial places in India. 

"There were about 160 vessels lying in 
the roads, of different nations. There is no 
harbor and it is one of the worst roadsteads 
on the Coromandel coast. There are most 
of the time fresh breezes and a strong cur- 
rent, which occasion rough sea and make 
the shipping to labor very much, and it is as 
disagreeable a place as ever I was at. Madras 
is strongly fortified, both towards the roads 
and the town by the Fort St. George. The 
greatest part of the business is transacted 
within the fort and at the residences of most 
of the white merchants. The houses in the 
fort are, in general, very handsome, and 
built from a composition of stone and dirt 
and cemented and plastered with chenam, 
and painted or whitewashed. 

" The houses in the suburbs are built from 
the same materials, but are much smaller 
and are in general destitute of neatness and 
elegance. . . . The imports of the place 

Of Salem 151 

are great, consisting of almost every article of 
the manufacture of Europe — wines, brandy, 
Geneva porter, cheese, hams, etc., which 
articles are principally supplied by the India 
Company's ships, and they always have the 
preference in the sales of a foreign vessel. 
. . . The exports consist principally of 
cotton, manufactured goods of different de- 
scriptions, and of a superior quality to the 
Bengal goods, and the prices are much 
greater. There is a duty of 2^ per cent, on 
all goods exported. 

"Foreigners who bring cargoes to this 
place find it difficult to get specie for their 
goods, it being very scarce. For certain 
reasons they take their payment in the 
goods manufactured upon the coast. . . . 
The inhabitants of Madras are composed of 
almost all nations. The native population 
are indolent and inoffensive. Their prince 
or sovereign— the King of Arcot,— who re- 
sides in the vicinity of Madras, may with 
propriety be considered a prisoner, as he is 
continually guarded by the English, and al- 
lowed no communication with foreigners 

152 The Old Shipmasters 

without a special permit from the Governor. 
He is said to be allowed a handsome salary 
from the India Company and also the title 
of king, but not the least power. 

" Living at Madras is extremely dear, par- 
ticularly to put up at a public house, for 
which reason it is the general custom, with 
those who tarry as long as three or four 
weeks, to hire a house and keep "bachelor's 
hall," which is much less expensive. The 
market is well supplied, but every necessary 
of life is very dear. Every person who has 
any business keeps a palanquin, with six 
servants to carry him about. Respecting 
the customs of the natives, 1 am sorry that 
it is not in my power to describe them. I 
can only observe that they profess a great 
deal of superstition with regard to their re- 
ligion, etc. 

" Having completed my business, 1 em- 
barked on Tuesday, June 2d, and sailed from 
the placie, bound for Salem. As the S.W. 
monsoon was at this time blowing in its 
full force, it was unfavorable to my course. 
Had pleasant gales and a smooth sea to the 

Of Salem 153 

westward of Cape Aquilla, but the weather 
being hazy prevented me from seeing it as I 
passed its meridian, latitude 35° 20'. . . . 
During the time of my being on the banks, 
and also to the eastward, had from 20 to 
35 miles currents every day, which, I judge, 
set to the south and westward, trending 
with the coast. We had soundings on the 
bank of Nantucket, and on the 25th arrived 
at my desired port, Salem." 

Journals from the sea are never devoid 
of interest. Following are extracts from a 
diary kept by George Cleveland, clerk to 
Captain Samuel Derby, master of the ship 


"We sailed from Salem on the 19th of 
November, 1800, bound for Sumatra, having 
$50,000 in specie on board, and a small as- 
sorted cargo. Bencoolen roads, Sumatra, 
was reached on the loth of April, 136 days 
from Salem. Without stopping to trade at 
Sumatra, the vessel proceeded to Batavia, 
arriving there on the 25th of April. While 

154 The Old Shipmasters 

at the last-named port, Captain Derby made 
a bargain with the Dutch East India Com- 
pany to take the annual freights to and from 
Japan, and left for that place with his cargo, 
June 20, 1801." 

The Margaret arrived at the port of Naga- 
saki July 19th, being obliged to fire salutes 
and dress the vessel with flags before enter- 
ing port. The Margaret was the first Salem 
vessel, and the second American vessel, to 
visit Japan. The ship Franklin, of Boston^ 
commanded by James Devereux, of Salem, 
was the first American vessel which traded 
with Japan. Commercial intercourse was 
not opened with that country until half a 
century later; the American treaty, the re- 
sult of the expedition under Commodore 
Perry, which opened the Japanese ports to 
the world, being dated March 31,1 854. Pre- 
vious to this time all the trade with Japan 
was in the hands of the Dutch, who were 
obliged to submit to the grossest indignities. 

" In the first place, we went to Facquia's, 
an eminent ' stuff' merchant. Here we were 
entertained in such a manner as we little 





1— 1 




























c . 

O O 

■" 00 

o «> 

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C/3 (H 



Of Salem 155 

expected. We had set before us as a repast, 
pork, fowls, meso, eggs, boiled fish, sweet- 
meats, cake, various fruits, and sacky tea. 
The lady of the house was introduced, who 
drank tea with each of us, as is the custom 
of Japan. She appeared to be a modest 
woman. The place we next visited was a 
temple, to which we ascended from the 
street by at least 200 stone steps. Adjoin- 
ing this was the burying-ground. We went 
next to the glass-house — which was on a 
small scale, — thence to a hardware mer- 
chant's, where we were entertained with 
great hospitality. Thence we went to a 
tea-house, or hotel, where we dined. After 
dinner we were entertained with various 
feats of dancing and tumbling. Towards 
dark returned to the island, and so great 
was the crowd in the streets to see us pass 
that it was with difficulty we could get 
along. The number of children we saw 
was truly astonishing. The streets are nar- 
row, and at the end of every street is a gate, 
which is locked at night. The houses are 
of two stories, built of wood. 

156 The Old Shipmasters 

"The Japanese observed one feast when 
we were there. It was in remembrance of 
the dead. The ceremonies were principally 
in the night. The first was devoted to feast- 
ing, at which they fancy their dead friends 
to be present. The second and third nights 
the graves are lighted with paper lamps, 
and, situated as they are on the side of a 
hill, make a most brilliant appearance. On 
the fourth night, at 3 o'clock, the lamps are 
all brought down to the water and put into 
small straw barks, with paper sails, made 
for the occasion, and, after putting in rice, 
fruit, etc., they are set afloat. This exhibi- 
tion was very fine. 

"As the time was approaching for our 
departure we began to receive our returns 
from the interior — brought many hundred 
miles. These consisted of the most beauti- 
ful lacquered ware, such as waiters, writing- 
desks, tea-caddies, knife-boxes, and tables. 
We also received a great variety of silks, 
fans in large quantities, and a great variety 
of porcelain. The East India Company's 
cargo had already been put on board. The 

Of Salem i57 

principal article was copper, in small bars. 
The company's ships have been obliged to 
take their departure from the anchorage 
opposite Nagasaki on a certain day, to the 
lower roads, no matter whether it blew high 
or low, foul or fair, even if one thousand 
boats should be required to tow them down. 
We, of course, had to do as our predeces- 
sors had done. Early in November we went 
to this anchorage and remained a few days, 
when we sailed for Batavia, where we ar- 
rived safely after a passage of a month." 


stories of Shipwreck and Disaster — Tile Wreck of tile Ship Formosa — 
An Island Reached by Crew — Submerged at High Tides — Sail- 
ors Build a Platform on Cocoanut-Trees — Loss of Ship Humboldt 
— Captain Powars Tells a Thrilling Story — The Margaret Never 

"\ A7H0 can describe the horrors of ship- 
wreck ? It is a terrible thing to be 
stranded on a desolate shore amid the seeth- 
ing breakers, where thunder the mad waves 
as they lash the rocks; but infinitely more 
terrible it must be when wrecked on some 
distant sea, away from the usual track of 
vessels, with the expectation that the ship 
will go down at any moment, leaving noth- 
ing but a frail boat for the officers and crew, 
in which to cast about for succor and help. 
The mariner, driven upon a lee shore, may 
have strong hopes of being rescued, espe- 
cially if he be on a civilized coast; but to be 
on the broad ocean in an open boat, without 


The Old Shipmasters of Salem 159 

water or provisions, with the possibility of 
starvation and a lingering death, is enough 
to appall the stoutest heart. Salem has had 
her share of marine disasters. Many are her 

" Ships that sailed for sunny isles 

But never came to shore." 

In most cases the loss of vessels was not 
the fault of shipmasters. For instance, in 
thick and stormy weather, when there is no 
chance to take the sun for several days, 
when there may be strong and variable 
currents, also sunken rocks and hidden reefs 
to avoid, is it a wonder that, under such 
circumstances, when a vessel is driven from 
her true course, with no means of ascertain- 
ing either latitude or longitude, she is over- 
taken by disaster ? 

The Formosa, one of the finest American 
clipper ships then afloat, of some 1300 tons, 
owned by Silsbee, Pickman, & Allen of Sa- 
lem, sailed from Boston April 25, 1879, for 
Madras, Manila, and Zebu, and went ashore 
on Tweeling Island at the entrance to Allass 
Straits, January 3, 1880. This shipwreck 

i6o The Old Shipmasters 

will serve to show how powerless the offi- 
cers and crew of a ship are, under certain 
conditions, to avert disaster. The following 
extracts are from the ship's log-book: 

" Friday, Jan. 2, 1880. Trying hard all 
day to work out Lombok, but there being 
such a strong tide the ship would .not mind 
her helm. At 5 p.m. squared away for Al- 
lass Straits. At 6 p.m. the center of Pandeto 
Isle bore S.W. I S. Peak of Lombok, E. 
by S. i S. At midnight the center of Twee- 
ling Island bore south. . . . Through- 
out, baffling winds with strong gales, then 
dying out calm. Shortened sail to topsail. 

" Saturday. — Northerly breeze. Ship not 
making anything on account of strong tide. 
At 6 P.M. a terrific squall. Wore ship; split 
foresail, lower foretopsail, and blew foretop- 
gallant-sail all away while hanging in the 
buntlines; all hands unbending and rebend- 
ing sails. At 9 p.m. set the topsail and main- 
topgallant-sails. At 10 P.M. set the mainsail. 
At 11.35 P-M. was called by the second 
mate; he believed that we were pretty 
near to the land. Went on deck and found 

Of Salem i6i 

the ship heading N.W. with a light breeze, 
and considered her all right. At 11.55 P-m. 
the mate again called me; found the wind 
had died out and the ship would not steer; 
sounded, no bottom at 58 fathoms; tried 
to get her around as she seemed to be drift- 
ing inshore; sounded again and got 15 
fathoms; cleared away the anchor, it being 
in the shoe. Next sounded, got 1 1 fathoms; 
let go the anchor; next sounded and got 
five fathoms, and ship touching forward in 
the northern point of the western Tweeling; 
time about 2.15, midnight; stern swung 
around to the eastward and she grounded 
hard amidships. Laid the kedge off on the 
starboard quarter in 16 fathoms of water 
and tried to heave her off, but could not. 
As the port anchor would not hold, got 
the stream anchor out with 90 fathoms 
of 7|^-inch line in twenty fathoms of water; 
took it to the windlass and hove, but could 
not start her, as the tide had begun to fall. 
Hove up the port bower and tried to lay it 
out, but the rollers were so heavy that the 
lashing parted and damaged both boats 

1 62 The Old Shipmasters 

by spreading them, so let it lay where it 

"As the tide fell, the rollers came in 
heavier and she began to pound. The tide 
continuing to fall, she came down with a 
thunderous crash and the mainmast began 
to settle. Kept pumps a-going at intervals 
as the men could be spared from other 
work. Sounded as soon as ship struck and 
found 17 inches of water in the well. She 
did not make much water until she began 
to pound again. At 6.30 a.m. 35 inches in 
well, and at 6.50 45 inches." 

When the water in the well had risen to 
ninety-five inches. Captain Reynolds, find- 
ing it impossible to gain on the leak, com- 
menced to land what he could from the 
ship. The sight must have been disheart- 
ening — ^that ship lying stranded and helpless 
upon the rocks of a desolate shore, even 
though it was but one of many similar 
scenes in the experience of mariners. But 
to return to the entries in the log-book. 

"Jan. 4. At 12.50 P.M. the captain took 
a boat and five men to procure assistance ; 

Of Salem 163 

the remainder employed in removing pro- 
visions and water from ship, having found 
a small coral patch which apparently will 
be covered at high tide, but the only place 
along the coast where we can so land at all. 

"At 4 P.M. the captain returned. "No 
assistance — no white man to be found. At 
7 P.M. the water was up to the main hatch ; 
ship lying over on the starboard side. 
Thinking it dangerous to stop on board, we 
all camped on shore. At daylight when 
we boarded the ship, found the cabin half 
full of water with all the masts a- settling. 
Finding that the boats were liable to be 
stove, rigged a raft and continued to save 
all we could. At 8 a.m. a prow from Lom- 
bok side with four natives came to us. 
Having a man who could understand Malay, 
captain made arrangements for them to take 
him to Ampanam where he could get to 

Here the mate again gives an account of 
the condition of the ship, which was fast 
breaking up. Another calamity now stared 
them in the face, and this was that when 

1 64 The Old Shipmasters 

the tide was high it would submerge the 
island, so a platform had to be erected in 
some cocoanut-trees for their safety and 

"Jan. 10, there was another high tide 
and the island was completely covered and 
surf rolling in, endangering our stores. 

"On the 13th of January, ten days after 
the ship went ashore, all hands were taken 
off the island by the steamer IVm. McKin- 
non. Nothing was then seen of the Formosa 
but the top of her masts." 

Note. — The Formosa was on her homeward passage laden with 
hemp from Manila, when lost. The underwriters paid $250,000 for 
the loss of the ship and cargo. 

Ill luck seems to have followed Captain 
Reynolds, whose experience in the ship 
Formosa has just been related. On his next 
voyage he was in command of the ship 
Humboldt, which sailed from Boston, Octo- 
ber 18, 1882. Captain Powars — who was 
first mate of the ship — tells the story of 
her loss in a letter written to a friend in 
Salem, which is of an unusually interesting 

Of Salem 165 


"The Humboldt sailed from Woo Sung, 
at the mouth of the Shanghae River, the 
following Autumn, and soon after leaving 
port, the weather shut in thick and the 
wind gradually increased. We ran through 
Formosa Channel that day, and at 1 1 p.m. 
were clear of all danger. 

" Friday, noon, weather thick and blow- 
ing heavily, with very high sea, ship making 
a run of from 1 1 to 1 3 miles per hour. . . . 
Saturday, noon, the weather worse; the ship 
under lower fore and main-topsails; at 4 p.m. 
the barometer very low; the ship was hove 
to; in coming to the wind lost lower fore- 
topsail, the men getting frightened and leav- 
ing the braces. ... 1 went on deck at 
8 o'clock, and Captain Reynolds went below 
to try and get some sleep. ... I went 
about hauling braces taut, and other ropes 
that were slatting about. Had just finished 
and was going forward along the main deck 
to have a look at the lookout man, when I 
heard a noise like distant thunder. I turned 
to run to the cabin to tell the captain the 

1 66 The Old Shipmasters 

wind was coming from S.W., and at the 
same time sang out to the man at the wheel 
to put the wheel hard-a-starboard. Before 
I got to the cabin door, the man on the 
lookout shouted ' Breakers ahead ! ' and at 
the same time a heavy sea broke on the 
stern. 1 jumped on the booby hatch, from 
there to the top of the after house, and sang 
out: 'All hands on deck !' When the ship 
went down on the next sea, the rudder was 
unhung and the mainstay carried away at 

" We were gathered in the mizzen rigging, 
up out of the water, and when the vessel 
struck the bottom it was as much as we 
could do to keep from being shaken off. It 
could not have been more than five minutes 
before we were over the reef and in deep 
water again. As good fortune had it, the 
ship kept bow on to the sea, for had she 
laid broadside to it she would have been 
turned end over end. Some of the men 
were placed at the pumps, and others or- 
dered to put bread and water into the two 
quarter-boats. As soon as we were clear 

Of Salem 167 

of the breakers, the wind died out altogether. 
We then went to work and got a hawser 
up to use as a drag astern. Braced yards 
around on starboard tack. 

' ' At midnight the wind was blowing with 
typhoon force, and the men were hard at 
work at the pumps. About half past one 
the weather looked brighter to leeward, and 
we knew that meant breakers. I found the 
captain standing by the mizzenmast, on top 
of the house. I asked him to come up in 
the rigging and take a look. He followed 
me, but had not got far before he was satis- 
fied that there were breakers under our lee. 
He told me to run forward and let go both 
anchors, and I should judge that by the 
sound there were about ten fathoms of wa- 
ter under us when the anchors touched bot- 
tom. About 4") fathoms of chain ran out 
before the ship came to the wind, and before 
she did so we felt her touch the rocks. We 
tried to stop her taking chain, but it was 
impossible, as it would 'jump the wild cat' 
with that strain on it, and so of course we 
went into the breakers," 

1 68 The Old Shipmasters 

After giving a description of cutting the 
masts and other exciting scenes on board, 
Captain Powars continued : " We went into 
the cabin to try and keep ourselves as com- 
fortable as possible, but had not been there 
long before the ship broke in two in the 
middle, for above the roar of the wind and 
sea 1 heard a crash, and the partitions began 
to fall down. All made a rush up the after- 
way and got on the starboard quarter. As 
fast as we could we put a turn of rope around 
our bodies and held on. The beams that 
propped us up gradually broke away. At 
last we were so low that almost every sea 
washed some of us down over the bottom 
of the ship. The Chinese cook and steward 
stopped in the cabin and were drowned. 
At last a sea broke and washed some of us 
off, myself among the number. As soon as 
I rose to the surface and caught my breath, 
I started to swim with the sea, and had not 
taken more than a couple of strokes when 
my foot struck something like a rock, and I 
soon found I was where 1 could touch bot- 
tom. I stood up and found the water only 

Captain Joseph Peabody (i 757-1844). 

Eminent as a merchant. 
From the original portrait by Charles Osgood, a Salem painter of note. 

Of Salem 169 

to my waist, but, before I had time to look 
around me, another sea struck me and 1 
went end over end with it. 

"When 1 reached the surface again, see- 
ing a piece of the wreck, I went and got 
on it. Shortly two men came along cling- 
ing to a spar, and 1 called to them to come 
to me, and they did so. We sat there a few 
moments, when one of the men said he did 
not believe we were drifting, and he jumped 
overboard and found we were tightly jammed 
in the rocks. All then took to the water and 
started for the land. The men having no 
shoes on, the coral cut them terribly at every 
step. We were soon on the beach, where 
we found others of the crew. Thirteen had 
found their way to land. The men soon 
began to complain of the cold, and tried to 
keep warm by running about, but soon gave 
that up, as they were so badly cut about the 
feet with the copper of the ship's bottom. 

" I sat down on a bale of goods, thinking 
that the captain, second mate, cook, steward, 
and three sailors were drowned, as there 
were 20 of us, all told, on board the ship. 

lyo The Old Shipmasters 

. . . Daylight at last came, and one of 
the men called out, ' There are others coming 

" I looked in the direction he pointed and 
saw four heads moving in the water, and 1 
at first thought they were seals. Those of 
us who could go ran down to the beach to 
assist the men. . . . Three got on shore, 
and as I turned back after the other, who was 
at some distance, but coming to the shore 
slowly, 1 found it was the captain. 1 should 
never have taken him for Captain Reynolds. 
He was as white as a ghost, and his face 
was terribly cut up. . . . When we had 
made the captain as comfortable as possible, 
I started with one man to see what there 
was on the island in the shape of water." 

Here Captain Powars gives a description 
of their "prospecting" trip, and the discov- 
ery of water dripping through the rocks, and 
other occurrences of intense interest. Some 
of the provisions, canned goods, etc., drifted 
from the wreck. There, on that desolate 
island, the men remained for eight days, 
until hope had nearly given way to despair. 

Of Salem 171 

" We knew if we got a fire we should be 
all right for a long time, as there were plenty 
of birds and shell-fish. . . . When I 
awoke some one spoke to me, and I looked 
up and saw it was one of the men. He told 
me that a number of men were coming up 
the beach towards us. I looked and saw 
there were eight of them, and then lay down 
again. He soon told me he believed one 
was smoking a pipe, and that brought me 
on my feet in an instant. Upon seeing me 
they all shouted: ' We 've got a fire in camp ! ' 
They had accomplished this by using the 
bull's-eye of the binnacle as a burning glass, 
with the aid of a slow match, which had 
been found." 

The sufferers were at last rescued by the 
British steamer Gordon Castle, Captain Wa- 
ring, bound to Hong-Kong, which had been 
driven from her course by wind and currents 
during thick weather. The above narrative 
is as full of fascination as the fictitious ad- 
ventures of Robinson Crusoe, and marked by 
as wonderful Providences as any detailed in 
Cotton Mather's Magnalia. 

172 The Old Shipmasters 


The ship Margaret, of Salem, to which 
reference has been made, was wrecked at 
sea, May 20, 18 10. She sailed from Naples, 
homeward bound, on the loth of April, un- 
der command of Captain Fairfield, with a 
crew, including officers, of fifteen in num- 
ber, together with thirty-one passengers. 
She passed through the Straits of Gibraltar 
the 22d of April. The following account is 
from the captain's story: 

" Nothing out of the usual course occurred 
until the 20th of May, when, in latitude 
40° N. , long. 39° 30' W. , having strong breezes 
and rainy weather, took in royals, topgallant- 
studding-sails, fore and mizzen topgallant- 
sails, jibs, staysails, and mainsail. At me- 
ridian, the weather continuing rough, the 
foretop-mast studding-sail halyards parted, 
the studding-sail fell overboard, filled with 
water, and carried away the studding-sail 
boom. The lower studding-sail spanker and 
mizzen-topsail were taken in, just as a squall 
struck the ship, and in an instant the fore 
and main-topsails were clewed, and the or- 

Of Salem i73 

der given to let fly the sheets. The wind 
suddenly shifted from E.S.E. to S.W., and, 
although the helm was hard to weather, the 
ship could not be got before the wind, but 
was instantly hove on her beam ends. 

"Every person on board being on deck 
reached either the bottom or side of the ship 
and held on. An axe was secured with 
which the weather lanyards of the shrouds 
and masts were cut away, which being done 
the ship righted, being full of water, her 
hatches off, chests, water-casks, etc., drift- 
ing about. The guns, anchors, caboose, 
and everything on deck were thrown over- 
board to lighten the ship, but all efforts were 
in vain, the starboard lanyards of the shrouds 
being deep under water and fast to the ship, 
and the sea making continual breach over 
her. During this time the longboat was 
being carried to and fro among the wreck 
of spars, bottom up, the pinnace smashed 
to pieces, and the stern boat lying at a short 
distance from the ship full of water and 
badly damaged. With great difficulty this 
boat was bailed out. The longboat was 

174 The Old Shipmasters 

finally secured and hauled alongside the 
ship, but it was found that its gunwales and 
stern were broken entirely off, the wood 
ends and garboard streak open, and large 
holes in the bottom, so that it was found 
impossible to bail the boat out, and it be- 
came necessary to upset it again with the 
hope of being able to stop some of the holes 
in the bottom, which was in part effected by 
driving the butts together and by putting 
canvas into the larger holes. 

"The boat was again turned over, and by 
continued bailing with buckets it was kept 
from sinking. It was now evening, and the 
boat being hauled near to the ship for the 
purpose of getting canvas and oakum to 
stop the leak, as many men as could reach 
the boat jumped into it, and finding it would 
be again sunk if it remained so near the 
ship, it was found necessary to veer it to 
leeward of the ship at the distance of fifteen 
or twenty fathoms. 

"There were then twelve in the boat, and 
soon another man jumped from the ship into 
the sea and made for the boat. He was 

Of Salem i75 

taken in, but finding that all on board were 
planning to pursue the same course, the oc- 
cupants were obliged to keep farther off. 
The situation of those in the boat was stated 
to those on board the ship, and it also must 
have been evident to them that every exer- 
tion was made to keep it from sinking. 

"During the night a rope from the boat 
was made fast to the ship, but it was with 
great difficulty that those on board were pre- 
vented from getting into the boat and sinking 
it. At this time there were thirteen in the 
boat, and two men were kept constantly 
bailing to keep it above water. The follow- 
ing morning the weather was pleasant and 
the sea was tolerably smooth. The people 
on the wreck were in a deplorable condi- 
tion, and the same could be said of those in 
the boat. They kept entreating to be taken 
into the boat, but were answered that if 
any of them made an attempt to come 
into it, its occupants, notwithstanding their 
wretched condition, having no compass or 
any instrument by which they could direct 
their course, and not a single drop of fresh 

i;^ The Old Shipmasters 

water, would be compelled to cut adrift 
from the ship. 

"About this time two casks of brandy 
and sundry other articles of the cargo drifted 
past the boat, among which were picked up 
the mizzen topgallant-sail, two spars, five 
oars, one cask of oil, one drowned pig, a 
goat, and a bag of bread. A keg of brandy 
was thrown from the ship, which was 

" It being now about 1 1 a.m., those on 
the wreck were again determined to get into 
the boat, and began by jumping into the 
sea. The boat was veered round and farther 
off from the ship, causing them to return. 

"As it became evident that preparations 
were being made to gain the boat by those 
on the wreck, it was at last decided to cut 
the rope and leave them. A sail had been 
improvised from the mizzen-topsail, which 
had previously been secured, and those in 
the boat sailed away on their perilous voy- 
age in the hope of falling in with some 
vessel. The nearest land was some four 
hundred miles distant. It was now about 

















Of Salem i77 

noon, with a moderate breeze from the 
southward and westward. The course 
steered was as nearly east as possible, and 
in the direction, as near as could be judged, 
of the island of Corvo or Flores. When 
the ship was last seen she was lying in the 
same situation as when the boat left her. 

"The course was continued to the east- 
ward, the winds being variable from south- 
southeast to northwest. It required two to 
be kept constantly bailing, and the only 
guide the stars at night; and in dark, cloudy 
weather, by the heaving of the sea; and in 
the daytime, by judging from the bearing of 
the sun, when to be seen, and when not, by 
judgment alone. For four days the boat 
continued in this situation without seeing 
any vessel, but on Saturday, May 26th, at i 
P.M., a sail came in sight, which proved to 
be the brig Poacher, of Boston, Captain 
James Dunn, from Alicant, who took on 
board those in the boat. Nothing was after- 
wards heard of the Margaret, and it is 
supposed that those on the wreck found a 
watery grave." 


Short of Fresh Water Causes Alarm — Captain Williams's Invention to 
Make Salt Water Fresh — His " Still " Described by him — Notes 
on his Voyage — In Shoal Water. 

'T'HE Master Mariners were indued with 
* that element of strength which comes 
from intuitive knowledge, as it were; hence 
their natural resources were always ready 
to be "drawn on at sight." 

Captain Israel Williams sailed from Salem 
harbor in 1798, in the ship Friendship, for 
Batavia, to find a market. His cargo con- 
sisted of the staples suited to the East India 
trade. When in latitude 22° 50' south, and 
longitude 21° 46' west, the ship's supply of 
water gave out. Captain Williams was 
thinking however. It was said that he was 
uncommunicative, even to his first officer, 
who often walked the quarter-deck with him. 

Yes, he was meditating. A great responsi- 


The Old Shipmasters of Salem 179 

bility rested upon him. Not only were the 
lives of his officers and crew in his hands, 
but a valuable ship and cargo as well. 

The captain went to his cabin in a 
thoughtful frame of mind, not even notic- 
ing that the careless helmsman had luffed 
the ship up into the wind so that every 
sail was flapping. When the captain again 
made his appearance on- deck, he paced 
back and forth for a while, and then accosted 
his first officer as follows : " Get up one of 
the empty beef barrels from the hold, also 
one of the muskets and take the barrel out. 
I 'm going to try an experiment." 

It was water, pure fresh water, they 

"They were as rich in having such a jewel, 
As twenty seas, if all their sands were pearls ! " 

The rest of the story the captain tells in 
his journal as follows : 

"The following experiment for making 
fresh water from salt water, after some little 
reflection on the value of a due supply of 
fresh water at sea, I have found very much 

i8o The Old Shipmasters 

to my satisfaction. That with little trouble 
salt water will yield good fresh water there 
is no question. Only with my ship's small 
boiler to supply the ship's company, 19 in 
number, in our necessitous circumstances, I 
ordered my carpenter to fix a wooden cover 
to the boiler as tight as possible, to which I 
had a perpendicular wooden pipe or neck 
bored with an inch auger, in length about 
12 inches, in the top of which 1 had a box 
fitted very closely, secured with two iron 
hoops ; from the side of this box 1 had a 
short oblique wooden pipe that entered an 
old musket-barrel which had been taken out 
of its stock for this purpose ; this 1 called 
my ' worm,' and 1 passed it through a beef 
barrel filled with water, set on head ; 
through a hole bored near the upper chime 
on one side, and through the bilge in the 
opposite side thereof, it passed obliquely 
from the box, or still-head, through the beef 
barrel, and answered my purpose for a 
cooler. The end of the barrel of the gun 
came through the cooler about a foot, which 
made it convenient to keep a bucket under 



























^ i 

Of Salem i8i 

to receive the water as it ran off. The 
water we received from the above process 
was remarkably clear, transparent, and fresh. 
I put about a gill into each copper of water 
of common wood ashes, the alkali of which 
I presume made the water soft. It may not 
be improper to observe that the box, which 
I call the 'still-house,' was only 7 or 8 
inches square, which, if extended, would 
be more beneficial, as it would contain more 
vapor and of course produce a greater quan- 
tity of fresh water." 

Further extracts from Captain Williams's 
journal give a description of his approach 
to St. Paul's Island, etc. : 

" Dec. 15, at 5 P.M., we made the island 
of St. Paul E. by S., 10 miles distant. St. 
Paul's is famous for the resort of different 
species of seals and vast numbers of birds. 
It is very high land, rising to a majestic 
peak in the middle, having a somewhat low 
point making out from it to the southward ; 
also one still - lower to the northeast or 
thereabouts. Its peak is rarely seen, ow- 
ing to the clouds which hover over it and 

1 82 The Old Shipmasters 

obscure the summit. We had the pecuHarly 
good fortune to observe it when perfectly 
clear and free from clouds, which lasted for 
but a few minutes before the clouds began 
to gather about it a few degrees below its 
summit. The only indications I was enabled 
to make of our approach to it were as fol- 
lows : For two or three days before we 
made the island, a monstroushigh and hol- 
low sea from S.S.W. to S.W. attended us, 
and no birds, as usual, before. The day 
before we made the land there was an 
amazing number of silver birds about the 
ship, and when in sight of the island there 
was no end to their numbers. 

"We found the situation of the island 
by our own observations to be in latitude 
37° 52' south, and longitude from a good 
lunar observation the morning we made the 
land, to be 78° 9' east. Its longitude hap- 
pens to be well determined as laid down 
in the common books and charts, but its 
latitude is grossly erroneous, which is laid 
down generally 22 miles too far to the 

Of Salem 183 

" March 11, 1798, arrived at the point of 
Ontonz, Java. Soon after passed Middle- 
burgh Island, leaving it on the starboard 
hand, and the Mud Bank from the aforesaid 
point on the larboard hand. This channel 
is narrow but esteemed safe by the Dutch, 
they using it with their largest India ships. 

"After passing by Middleburgh Isle it is 
best, coming in, to edge away to the south- 
ward a little to avoid two small coral spots 
bearing from said isle W.S.W., having only 
10 feet of water upon them, and g^ fathoms 
right alongside ; from 9^ fathoms your ship 
will ground before your leadsman can haul 
up his lead. . . . The man in the chains 
called 9^, and while hauling in the lead 
briskly the ship stopped a few seconds, or 
perhaps a minute, at which time we had 
about 12 feet of water, the bottom coral. I 
therefore pronounced this spot to be as up- 
right as the side of a wharf, and of course 
not a little dangerous, as when it blows 
fresh with a swell. The charts have 
near this spot two small spots laid down, 
but without soundings or other description. 

1 84 The Old Shipmasters of Salem 

. . , Abreast of Middleburgh is gener- 
ally a beacon upon the extreme part of the 
bank of mud. At this time it was cut down 
— as were all the buoys and beacons — for 
fear of the English, from whom the Dutch 
expected a visit" 


Captain George Nichols Sails on Another Voyage in the Ship Active — 
Inadequacy of Charts as a Guide for Mariners — Slaughtering 
Seals — Strange Findings in Huts on Desolate St. Paul's Island — 
Hogs and Fowls Roaming at Will — Shooting Black Fish — Arrives 
at the Port of Muscat — The Natives and the Government — On 
the Lookout for Pirates. 

'T'HE incidents attending another voyage 
* to the Far East by Captain George 
Nichols in the ship Active are interestingly 
described by him. The dangers he encoun- 
tered in navigating his ship make evident 
the inadequacy of the charts at that time 
for giving the desired information to mari- 
ners. The following are quotations from 
the captain's log-book: 

" I continued to have the wind from the 
south'd and east'd to the latitude 34° S., 
being then in longitude 32° W. After that 
had most of the time brisk breezes and pleas- 
ant weather to the island of Tristan de Cunha 
which I saw the 14th of February. . . . 


1 86 The Old Shipmasters 

March 8, 1802, I arrived in Table Bay from 
a tedious passage of eighty-five days from 
Salem. This place being so universally 
known, it is unnecessary to describe it. 
Having obtained my supplies, I sailed again 
on the 12th for the Cape of Good Hope, 
. . . On the twenty-first day after leav- 
ing Table Island I saw the island of St. Paul. 
As I have described this island in my voy- 
age last year, shall not repeat it. I caught 
as many fish as I wanted from the western 
side of the island about one-half mile from 
the shore, which were the same kind I 
caught last year. Afterwards, in sailing by 
the island, I discovered several tents or 
houses on the northeast part. Being then 
abreast the landing place, I took my second 
mate and three seamen in the boat and went 
on shore. I went in abreast of the tents 
and found as safe a landing as at any wharf 
in Salem, in a small bay, sheltered by the 
rocks without from the sea. I immediately 
set my people to kill and skin the seals, 
which we did not find so plenty as they 
were at the time I was here with Captain 

Of Salem 187 

Swett in 1796. Still 1 imagine several hun- 
dred might be killed in a day. They would 
weigh from one hundred to two hundred 
pounds and were fierce when attacked. At 
first my people were afraid to go near them, 
but as the animals are very inactive when 
on the land, there is not the least risk of 
them, a small blow on the head being suffi- 
cient to stun them. 

" I sent my mate to the tents, ^ which were 
about one hundred yards from the shore, 
and he informed me that there were four of 
them thirty to fifty feet in length, framed 
with small timbers, and thatched with coarse 
grass, with which the island is covered. In 
one of these houses was a quantity of stores, 
viz., tierce of rice, a cask of molasses, and 
sundry other articles, together with many 
cooking and carpenter's utensils, ten or 
twelve hogs, and a great number of fowls, 
all in good condition. 

' Captain Nichols further observes that in one of the tents was a let- 
ter mentioning that the buildings were erected by persons employed by 
Mr. Perkins of Boston in a sealing voyage, and that the articles before 
mentioned were left by the ship Thomas Russell of Boston, having 
had bad weather at the time they left the island, and were unable to 
take them off. 

1 88 The Old Shipmasters 

"Should the hogs and fowls remain un- 
molested two or three years," continues the 
captain, "there is but little doubt of their 
stocking the island sufficient to supply the 
wants of future navigators. Having an 
ample supply of every necessary, 1 did not 
suffer the least article to be taken away. 
After remaining on shore about half an 
hour, we skinned twelve seals and took 
them into the boat with seven unskinned, 
and went on board, and immediately made 
sail and steered to the northward. After 
leaving the island, had a very unusual spell 
of calm, flattering weather, together with 
head winds, until 1 met the south trade 
winds, which was in latitude 30° south, being 
then in longitude 87" 30' east of London. 
Previous to meeting the trade winds on the 
1 3th of April, had a great number of black- 
fish round the ship. With a musket I shot 
five of them, with five balls at the same 
number of fires, one of which died in a few 
minutes. Lowered the boat and towed the 
fish alongside, but was obliged to cut it in 
two in order to hoist it on board, which 

Of Salem 189 

I judged would weigh about thirteen or 
fourteen hundred pounds, its length being 
nearly thirteen feet, and, excepting its head, 
which was not peaked, it very much resem- 
bled a porpoise. 

"For some time I had the usual trade 
wind, and passed the equator on 95" east; 
had most of the time calm, flattering weath- 
er, and a strong, southerly current, setting 
sometimes to the S.S.W. and south, and at 
other times to the S.S.E. and S.E., from 12 
to 30 miles in 24 hours. By lunar observa- 
tion it set us about two degrees to the east- 
ward in 10 days. From the equator I steered 
for Hog Island, which I saw on the 4th of 
May. This island is between 15 and 16 
leagues in length, of moderate height, and 
it is very broken, sandy, and covered with 
trees. In coasting along the western side 
there appeared to be a great number of 
breakers, some of which lay a considerable 
distance, particularly from the western ex- 
treme, where, by my chart, there is a shoal 
lying eight or nine miles off, but they did 
not appear to me to lay more than four or 

1 9° The Old Shipmasters 

five miles from the shore. 1 had a very 
clear view of the coast, and kept off shore 
H to 3^ leagues. I passed between Hog 
Island and another island which were very 
erroneously laid down in my charts, which 
places them N.E. distance six or seven 
leagues from the north extreme of Hog Isl- 
and, instead of which they lay nearly west 
from the said extreme; the distance 1 judged 
to be about six leagues. 

" My port of destination, Muscat, not be- 
ing described in any of my books, and its 
latitude, given by several persons, not corre- 
sponding nearer than 12 miles, embarrassed 
me very much, and I was obliged to proceed 
with great caution. The charts which I 
have are English, and the latest extant, still 
the coast about Muscat is very badly laid 
down, and the winds and weather are not 
better described in the East India Directory, 
After several days of anxiety and fatigue, 
came to anchor at Muscat. During the time 
of my being- here, which was from May 14 
to June 6, I had regular land and sea breezes, 
and most of the time pleasant weather. 


■i^i •. i 








O o 

S ° 

■E o 

XJ en 
^ '3 

fcfl c: 

d O 

E ^ 

M o 


Ph H 




s s 

Of Salem 191 

" Respecting the natives here, I always 
found them to be very friendly, but it is 
dangerous to irritate them and to permit 
many of them to be on board your vessel 
at a time. They always have their knives 
with them, and there have been instances 
of their taking vessels, and 1 imagine they 
are always willing to take advantage of a 
good opportunity to do a like act. They 
are naturally a very lazy, indolent people, 
dirty in their persons, and have scarcely any 
uniformity in dress. On their heads they 
wear a handkerchief done up a little like a 
turban, and about their loins are several 
yards of cloth, which .reaches a little below 
their knees, which is their only dress. 

"Respecting their government or laws I 
know but little. There are two ' datos ' or 
chiefs, who appear to be the only ruling 
men among them, and, apparently, all busi- 
ness is regulated by them. From these per- 
sons you purchase your cargo. I sailed from 
this place, bound for Manila. . . . The 
channel from Malacca and the Straits of 
Singapore is narrow, and a little wind, with 

192 The Old Shipmasters 

a southerly current, will set a ship over 
towards the Sumatra coast, which is full of 
shoals; besides, it appears to be badly ex- 
plored. Through these straits 1 consider it 
to be the most expeditious route a ship can 
go to the China Sea from any port in India 
to the northward of the equator, provided 
it is not earlier than the month of May; but 
in April I would prefer going through the 
Straits of Sunda. Working down the coast 
of Sumatra the navigation is doubtless much 
clearer, and small vessels are not so much 
exposed to the attacks of the natives. In 
these latter straits they have large prows 
and many of them are well armed. There 
are frequent instances of vessels having been 

"I saw several of these pirates in the 
Straits of Singapore, and 1 should not have 
been safe from their attacks had 1 not been 
in company with a large ship. I saw in 
steering N.N. E. Poolo Sapata bearing N.E., 
distance six or seven leagues. Had a light 
breeze from the south'd and a strong current 
setting to the N.E., which, notwithstanding 

Of Salem 193 

every exertion, drew me down very fast 
toward the island. Being within one mile 
of it, and seeing no alternative, hove to and 
let the ship down with the current, keeping 
a good lookout, and standing ready to let 
go anchor. Sounded often, but had no 
ground at the distance of half a mile off the 

' ' Fortunately the current was setting di- 
rectly through between the island and the 
dangerous shoals lying to the south'd and 
east'd of it. My anxiety was much greater 
on account of its being dark. At sunset 1 
was within two or three miles of the island; 
at the same time saw the shoals above men- 
tioned; distance from me about one mile. I 
am convinced that I saw the rocks above 
water. There appeared to be a clear chan- 
nel of near two miles between the shoal and 
the island, and, should I ever fall in with 
this island again, in a like situation, I would 
proceed directly through this channel, keep- 
ing within one mile of the island. The 
night being very dark 1 lay by several hours, 
although I was some distance from land by 

194 The Old Shipmasters 

my chart and directions. At daylight the 
weather was still thick, and it was raining 
and blowing. 

" At 9 A.M., saw the land. At first 1 sup- 
posed it to be Goat Island. Shortly saw the 
land bearing from E.N. E. to N.N. E. , distance 
four or five leagues, which convinced me 
that the first which 1 saw was Mindoro— 
the north part — and the latter Luban. At 
9 o'clock the next morning 1 passed between 
the Haycock and the Conrigadora. July 12, 
1802, came to anchor in Cavity harbor, in 
three fathoms of water. As the situation 
of Manila, and likewise every useful infor- 
mation respecting it, must be better known 
by several persons in the Salem Marine So- 
ciety than would be in my power to com- 
municate, I shall make but few remarks on 
the place. Its commerce during the late 
war in Europe has been extensive with for- 
eigners, but the peace has much changed it. 
The passage to this place is well described 
in the India Directory, excepting in the 
distance from Poolo Sapata to Goat Island; 
the difference of longitude is described as 

Of Salem 195 

being 11° 30'. Between these islands it is 
mentioned that there is not any current after 
the monsoons set in, which advice 1 intend- 
ed to adhere to in my passage to this place, 
by the means of which I was near losing 
my ship, as before observed. It is surprising 
to me that the Directory should be so erro- 
neous in observing that throughout the 
China Sea there is but little or no current. 
1 am certain that 1 never had less than from 
20 to 30 miles current in 24 hours, during 
the time of being in that sea. 

" Having completed my business, I sailed 
from the place the 12th of November. 
March 20, 1803, arrived at Falmouth, Eng- 


Dr. Nathaniel Bowditch — His Early Life in Salem — Difficulties in 
Acquiring Knowledge — Test of Young Bowditch's iVlathematical 
Ability — His Voyages as Supercargo — Correcting Errors in 
Standard Nautical Works — Voyage to Lisbon in r 796. 

A MONO the many eminent men Salem 
■^ has produced, the name of Nathaniel 
Bowditch stands out in bold relief. He was 
born March 26, 1773, and died in Boston, 
March 16, 1838. In his will is the following 

"Whereas some of my relatives have 
heretofore been members of that excellent 
institution, the Marine Society at Salem, 
some of whom have received the benefit of 
its charity fund, under circumstances en- 
titling it to my grateful remembrance, I do 
now give to that institution the sum of one 
thousand dollars, the income thereof to be 
forever applied in aid of its charitable ob- 
jects and purposes." 


The Old. Shipmasters of Salem 197 

A letter from his executors (two of his 
sons), enclosing a copy of Dr. Bowditch's 
will, in alluding to the bequest of their 
father, has the following pleasant reference: 

"He told us and all our children, at the 
time of executing it [the will] that his 
father, Habakkuk Bowditch, for nearly 20 
years received from your charity fund the 
annual sum of $15 or thereabouts, so that 
his own food and clothing when a boy were 
in part derived from this source. Under 
these circumstances we felt, with him., that 
he had incurred a debt of gratitude toward 
your society which justified and indeed 
required from him an affectionate acknowl- 
edgment in return. And the legacy in 
question was given with the full consent 
and approbation of all his family." 

Dr. Bowditch bequeathed a like amount 
to the Salem East India Marine Society, of 
which he had been president, and in which 
he always felt the deepest interest, and 
also to the Salem Athenaeum, whose advan- 
tages in youth he considered of inestimable 
value. "The above-named legacies," he 

1 98 The Old Shipmasters 

adds, " will, 1 trust, prove the regard which 
1 have always felt towards my native town, 
in which 1 passed so pleasantly the first 50 
years of my life." 

The following, from the resolutions of the 
Marine Society on the death of Dr. Bow- 
ditch, shows the respect in which he was 
held by the members of that society : 

" Resolved, That in the death of Nathan- 
iel Bowditch a public, a national, a humane 
benefactor has departed ; that not this com- 
munity, nor one nation only, but the whole 
world, has reason to do honor to his mem- 
ory ; that when the voice of eulogy shall be 
still, when the tear of sorrow shall cease to 
flow, no monument will be needed to keep 
alive his memory among men, but as long 
as ships shall sail, the needle point to the 
north, and the stars go through their wonted 
course in the heavens, the name of Dr. Bow- 
ditch will be revered as one who helped his 
fellow men in time of need, who was and is 
to them a guide over the pathless ocean, 
and of one who forwarded the great interest 
of mankind." 

Of Salem 199 

The writer has had access to the records 
and log-books of the Salem Marine Society, 
now deposited in the Essex Institute, and 
from them he has gleaned much valuable 
material. Recently, while engaged in his 
research, he came upon one of the veritable 
sea journals kept by Dr. Bowditch, which 
is written in a delicate, even hand, and 
contains much which is of value to the 

Dr. Bowditch sailed as supercargo on sev- 
eral voyages from Salem ; in 1796 in the 
ship Astrea, Captain Prince, to Lisbon, Ma- 
deira, Manila, and other places. As he was 
a member of the Marine Society, he was 
compelled to comply with an article of its 
by-laws, which was that every member 
should furnish, for the society, a journal of 
his respective voyages. Extracts from this 
journal, kept by this famous navigator, will 
be read with interest. 

That Nathaniel Bowditch was eminently a 
self-made man, no one can truthfully deny. 
He was led to take an interest in the higher 
branches of mathematical science, in 1787, 

200 The Old Shipmasters 

when he was but fourteen years of age. 
This desire to gain knowledge was brought 
about through the agency of an older 
brother who had been to sea on a voyage 
or two, and who, feeling the need of a bet- 
ter education and of a knowledge of navi- 
gation, as he intended to follow the sea, 
attended an evening school while at home 
from one of his voyages. On returning 
home one evening, he informed Nathaniel 
that the master had got a new way of doing 
sums and working questions, for instead of 
the figures commonly used in arithmetic, he 
employed letters of the alphabet. 

This novelty excited the lad's curiosity, 
and as mathematical books of all kinds 
were then scarce in the country, he man- 
aged to borrow the book of the master. 
That night he did not close his eyes, the 
book being all in all to him. He copied its 
contents from beginning to end, and soon 
mastered every problem it contained. Sub- 
sequently he got hold of a volume of the 
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal So- 
ciety of London, the greater part of which 

Dr. Nathaniel Bowditch (1773-1838). 

World-renowned navigator and author of scientific works. From copy by 
iVliss A. W. Woodbury. After Charles Osgood. Essex Institute. 

Of Salem 201 

he also copied. He was too poor at the 
time to purchase books, and copying was 
the only mode of getting at their results. 

When young Bowditch was at Madeira 
in 1796, as supercargo of a ship, he and the 
captain were invited to the house of Mr. 
Pintard, the American Consul. Mrs. Pintard 
had heard from an American shipmaster 
that the young supercargo was a great cal- 
culator, and she felt a curiosity to test 
his capabilities. Accordingly, she said to 
him at the dinner-table : " Mr. Bowditch, I 
have a question which 1 should like to have 
you answer." 

He replied by saying that he would do his 
best to comply with the wishes of his 
hostess. Continuing, she said : " Some 
years ago," naming the time, " I received a 
legacy in Ireland. The money was there 
invested, and remained some time on in- 
terest. The amount was subsequently re- 
mitted to England, where, also, the interest 
was allowed to accumulate, and lately the 
whole amount has been remitted to me 
here. What sum ought 1 to receive ? " She, 

202 The Old Shipmasters 

of course, named the precise dates of the 
several remittances, the original sums, etc. 

Mr. Bowditch laid down his knife and 
fork, and said that the problem was a little 
difficult on account of the difference of cur- 
rency and the number of the remittances, 
but moving his hands as though counting 
his fingers or some imaginary objects, he 
replied, after a pause of about two minutes : 

"The sum you should receive is ^843 
155. 6^d." 

"Well, Mr. Clerk," said Mrs. Pintard to 
the clerk of the house, who was an elderly 
man, and was esteemed a very skillful ac- 
countant, "you have been figuring it out for 
me on paper ; has he got it right ? " 

"Yes," was the reply of the clerk, "he 
has got it exactly right ! " 

Mr. Bowditch, just before leaving Salem, 
on his fourth voyage in 1799, was called on 
by Edward M. Blunt, then a noted pub- 
lisher of charts and nautical books at New- 
buryport, and was asked by him to continue 
the corrections which he had commenced 
on J. Hamilton Moore's book on navigation, 

Of Salem 203 

then extensively used. This he agreed to 
do, and while in performance of his promise 
he detected such a multitude of errors that 
it led to the construction and publication 
of The New American Practical Navigator, 
the first edition of which was issued in the 
year 1807. 

His extraordinary mathematical attain- 
ments attracted the attention of navigators 
and men of science in every civilized coun- 
try in the world. Dr. Bowditch's fame as a 
scientist rests on his translation and com- 
mentary of the great work of the French 
astronomer, La Place, entitled La Mecanique 
Celeste. When he had completed his cor- 
rections and additions to this book, half of 
it could well have been claimed as his own 
original matter. His long India voyages 
afforded him time to gratify his desire for 
nautical study, as well as for indulging his 
taste for general literature. His heart was 
big and generous, and he was ever ready 
to impart knowledge to others; and he fre- 
quently was seen instructing the common 
sailor in mathematical science. 

204 The Old Shipmasters 

The following extracts are from the origi- 
nal journal kept by Mr. Bowditch on a voy- 
age to Lisbon in 1 796. 

"We sailed through the northern channel 
and came to anchor off Belen Castle. After 
coming to anchor, Captain Prince went to 
the castle to report the ship, but was not 
suffered to land before the health officers 
had visited. The same evening we had 
permission from them to land the next 
morning, when we were entered at the 
custom-house by the vice-consul. . . . 
All your powder (if you have any on board) 
is taken out at an expense of $6 or $8, so 
that it is better to throw it overboard than 
report it, if you have only a small quantity, 
not only on account of the expense, but the 
detention, as you are not permitted to make 
an entry at Lisbon before a certificate is re- 
turned of your powder being in the custody 
of the keeper of the Castle Belen. . . . 
The number of excise officers, etc., make 
the port charges considerable. The 'light 
money ' is 25 cents per ton on vessels not 
taking powder, and 6i cents on those that 

Of Salem 205 

load with wines and other Portuguese 

"The streets of Lisbon are very dirty, all 
their filth being emptied into them, and the 
passenger must take care not to have a tub 
of suds, or something worse, thrown upon 
him. About 120 davs- .ar&-set-aoailJiQ£^th€ 
worship of their-saiftt-s: — Brrth'e se-d ays-and 
on Sundaysthe custom-ho,us£isjaQjLQEfiiJ£d 
and CTcourse not much business is done. 
The streets are always infested with beggars 
of various denominations; sortie lazy, dronish 
friars, others real objects of charity. Their 
importunate manner of demanding alms is 
really a very great nuisance. 

"The tide runs very strongly in the river 
Tagus. On May 5, 1796, I observed the 
time of low water, jh. 15m. a.m., the moon 
being in the meridian at loh. 27m. a.m.; 
daily difference of coming to the meridian, 
42m. ; whence, by allowing the time of high 
water to be 6h. 12m. later than the time of 
low water, the time of high water was ih. 
27m. P.M., which is 3h. im. past the time 
of the moon's southing. But, as the river 

2o6 The Old Shipmasters of Salem 

Tagus runs with considerable rapidity, it is 
possible that the ebb continues longer than 
the flood, and of consequence this time 
ought to be decreased a little; perhaps it 
would not err much from the truth to say 
that on the full and change days it is high 
water at 2h. 30m. p.m." 


More about the Life of Dr. Bowditch — He Continues his Journal — 
Interesting Incidents in Connection with Obtaining a Cargo — 
Notes on Manila — Thieves Rob Captain Prince of $1000 — Pur- 
sued, they Lose the Money Overboard from their Boat — Cargo 
Worth a Million Dollars. 

pvR. BO WDITCH'S journal contains much 
'-^ that is interesting, but we can give 
only a few further extracts from his notes 
relating to Manila and impressions he jots 
down from time to time. 


"Monday, Oct. 3, 1797. Being in Manila 
Bay, a boat came on board from John Stuart 
Kerr, who calls himself an American, say- 
ing he was born at Philadelphia. At 2 p.m. 
the government boat came aboard with two 
revenue officers. At 6 p.m. came to anchor 
at Cavite. . . . Next day went in the 

ship's boat to Manila. On our landing at 


2o8 The Old Shipmasters 

the custom-house we met Mr, Kerr, who 
accompanied us as interpreter to the house 
of the Governor. This visit must be made 
immediately after you come ashore. Mr. 
Kerr brought himself into a difficulty a year 
or two after by carrying an American to his 
own house before he had made a call on the 

" After waiting on the governor we went 
to Mr. Kerr's house (who at present is the 
American Consul) and hired one end of it, 
which was very convenient for shipping 
goods, as the river ran at the back of it, 
where the boats could come and load with 

" Contracts were made with some China- 
men for sugars to be delivered in five or six 
weeks, as they could not take it from the 
ports, dry it, and put it in bales in less time. 
That which happened to be ready packed 
was purchased and sent aboard immedi- 
ately. . . . Most of the bags must be 
examined by the sound, or else they will be 
apt to turn you off with dark and wet sugar. 
. . . They make but very little use of 

Of Salem 209 

molasses, as the government does not allow 
of any distilleries, nor will it suffer any 
spirit to be distilled from the cane, or any 
to be imported. Of course we were forced 
to call some New England rum, belonging 
to the mate, by the name of brandy, or 
aqua vitce, and the natives were so ignor- 
ant of the quality that they absolutely took 
it in preference to the best Cognac brandy, 
which was offered at the same price. 

" Manila is the only free port in the 
colony ; the duties, or imports and exports, 
are small. All goods imported are carried 
into the custom-house, and appraised, and 
a duty of 6 per cent, charged on them. 
Dollars are imported free of duty, but pay 
3 per cent, on exporting. . . . The price 
of indigo when we arrived at Manila in 1796 
was from 80 to 85 dollars per quintal, but as 
the English ships, etc., had nearly com- 
pleted their loading, and being non-purchas- 
ing, we were able to procure it at a less 
price, or at about 75 or 76 dollars per quin- 
tal. Nearly all the indigo was purchased of 
the natives in parcels from three or four 

2IO The Old Shipmasters 

pounds to several quintals. It was brought 
to the house in bags like those in which 
sugar is packed, then it was emptied in a 
large tub and inspected. Mr. Kerr assisted 
in inspecting most of the time, but in a 
short time we learned to inspect it our- 
selves. That which is light when broken, 
free from flaws, etc., of uniform clear color, 
is the best. If a few pieces were found of 
an inferior quality, we made them deduct 
several dollars from the price, but mixed it 
in with the rest. If a large quantity of it 
was found inferior, it was turned aside as 
second or third quality. They are very apt 
to wet their indigo just before offering it for 
sale, which will increase the weight as 
much as lo or 12 per cent To discover 
whether it is wet, it must be broken and 
the piece struck with the end of your nail. 
If it leaves a clear copper color without 
rising up at the side of the mark, as if soft, 
it is probably dry. If a wet piece be 
squeezed hard, it will appear cold and damp, 
even when the outside appears dry ; for 
when they wet it they take care that the 

Of Salem 211 

outside of the indigo shall appear quite dry. 
. . . Fresh provisions are very cheap at 
Manila. Fresh beef two cents per pound, 
and white flour bread about the same as in 

" The city of Manila is about three or four 
miles in circumference, is walled all around, 
and cannon are placed at proper intervals, 
but we were unable to get much informa- 
tion with respect to the state of the place, 
as they were shy of giving any information 
to foreigners. The buildings within the 
walls are all of stone, and none except the 
churches is more than two stories high, on 
account of the violent earthquakes which 
they have generally at the breaking up of 
the monsoons. The month of March is 
when they most expect them, but on the 
5th of November, 1797, we experienced 
several violent shocks at about 2 p.m., 
which came from the northward and pro- 
ceeded in a southerly direction, continuing 
with violence nearly two minutes. It threw 
down a large house half a league from the 
city, untiled several buildings, and did much 

212 The Old Shipmasters 

other damage. It was not observed on 
board the ship lying off the bar. The 
motion of the earthquake was quicker than 
those usual in America, as the latter are 
generally preceded by a rumbling noise ; 
the former was not. 

"The suburbs of Manila are very exten- 
sive ; most of the business is done- there. 
The houses of the wealthier class are of two 
stories, built of stone ; the poorer sort live 
in bamboo houses with thatched roofs. No 
house can be built in the suburbs without 
the particular permission of the governor, 
fearing if they were too high an enemy 
might make use of them for attacking the 
city, as was the case when the English took 
the place formerly, for one of the churches 
near the \yalls was very serviceable to them. 

"All the women have a little of the 
Indian blood in their veins, except the lady 
of the governor and two or three others, 
though by a succession of intermarriages 
with Europeans they have obtained a fair 
complexion. The natives (like all other 
Malays) are excessively fond of gaming and 







Of Salem 213 

cock-fighting. A theatre is established for 
the latter business, from which the govern- 
ment draws an immense revenue. The 
diversion being prohibited at any other 
place, sometimes there are 5000 or 6000 
spectators, each of whom pays half a real. 
A large sum arises from the duties on to- 
bacco and cocoa wine. Tobacco is pro- 
hibited, but if you smuggle any on shore it 
cannot be sold for more than the ruling cost 
in America, notwithstanding the price is 
very high here. Particular people, licensed 
by the king, are the only persons allowed 
to deal in it. 

"All the natives chew 'dreca' and 
'betel,' though not mixed with opium, as 
in Batavia. This, with chewing and smok- 
ing tobacco, makes their teeth very black. 
The segars used by the women, and which 
they smoke all day, are made as large as 
they can possibly get into their mouths. 
The natives are about as honest as their 
neighbors, the Chinese ; they stole several 
things from us, but by the goodness of the 
police we recovered most of them. 

214 The Old Shipmasters 

"On the 2d of December, 1797, thieves 
broke into the house where we lived, en- 
tered the chamber where Captain Prince 
and myself were asleep, and carried off a 
bag containing $1000, without awakening 
either of us, or any of the crew of the long- 
boat, sleeping in an adjoining chamber. The 
guard boat discovered them as they were 
escaping, and pursued them. They, in en- 
deavoring to escape, ran afoul of a large 
boat, which, upsetting them, the money 
went to the bottom, and, what was worse, 
the bag burst and the money was all scat- 
tered in the mud, where the water was 
eight feet deep. However, by the honesty 
of the captain of the guard, most of it was 
recovered. The thieves were caught, and, 
when we were there in 1800, Mr. Kerr in- 
formed us that they had been whipped, and 
were to be kept in servitude several years. 

"The same day another robbery was 
committed, equally as daring. The day 
the indigo was shipped, the second mate 
came ashore with several of the people to 
see it safe aboard. The boats we had pro- 

Of Salem 215 

vided, not taking all of it, we sent the re- 
mainder aboard with a black fellow as a 
guard, who was esteemed by Mr. Kerr as an 
honest man, but he had been contriving, it 
seems, to steal a couple of boxes. When 
the cases containing the indigo had passed 
the bar, a small boat came aboard with two 
boxes filled with chips, stones, etc., appear- 
ing in every respect like those full of indigo, 
and, pretending that we had put on board 
two wrong boxes, they exchanged their 
boxes for two real boxes of indigo, but, in 
bringing them ashore, they were detected 
and the indigo returned. 

"There are great numbers of Chinese at 
Manila. It is from them most of the indigo 
is purchased. They trade considerably with 
China; their junks arrive at Manila in Janu- 
ary, and all their goods are deposited in the 
custom-house. Some of these cargoes are 
valued at a million of dollars, the duties on 
which amounted to nearly $100,000. The 
Chinese at Manila retain all the customs of 
their country, excepting those respecting 
religion and a few other things of small 

2i6 The Old Shipmasters of Salem 

moment. They make use of the Chinese 
characters in writing, beginning at the right 
hand of the paper and writing downwards. 
Their manner of marking down any number 
is somewhat similar to the common method 
used by Americans." 


Voyage of Captain John White to the China Sea — Fight with Pirates 
near the Straits of Banka — At Canjeo — Native Chiefs Visit the 

T^HE trials and dangers encountered by the 
Master Mariners in pioneering the way 
to new ports of trade, and their power to 
adapt themselves readily to the varying con- 
dition of things, have been related by many 
a. story-teller. No experience, however, 
better illustrates this fact than the voyage 
made to the China Sea by Captain John 
White, in the brig Franklin, in 1819-20, 
for the purpose of finding a market for his 
cargo, and of purchasing another for home 
shipment. This was at a time when no 
American vessel, at least no one of which 
we have any record, had ever been at Can- 
jeo, or had attempted to ascend the Donnai 



2i8 The Old Shipmasters 

Not alone were the ladrones, with whom 
the China Sea was infested, to be dreaded, 
but the duly constituted authorities on shore 
were often not a whit behind these freeboot- 
ers in their determination to rob, plunder, 
and pillage, when it could be done through 
deception or a misinterpretation of local 
maritime law. They had little conception 
of the rights and privileges due to other 
nations; but not all their inhuman acts were 
chargeable to ignorance, for they had such 
an inherent propensity for robbery and crime 
that this could be said of the best of them: 

"Their imperial fancy laid all nature under tribute." 

The voyage of Captain White was an 
eventful one in Salem's commercial history. 
It opened the way for trade with ports whose 
products were unknown, to any considerable 
extent, even in Europe, and gave courage to 
the shipowners in their efforts to extend 
their business operations in foreign coun- 
tries. Captain White's journal of his voyage 
is replete with thrilling incidents from begin- 
ning to end, 

Of Salem 219 


"On Saturday, the 2d of January, 1819, 
we sailed from Salem, and the next day had 
a severe gale, w^ith snow, from the north- 
east. On the 4th of February crossed the 
equator. On the 9th, in the afternoon, be- 
ing in latitude 5° 50' south, and longitude 
29° 20' west, two sail of vessels were des- 
cried ahead, standing in the same direction 
with ourselves. We took little further no- 
tice of this incident (as at this time of general 
peace the whole navigation of the world was 
in motion) than to observe that we were 
approaching them rapidly, which excited a 
consequent emotion of exultation at the su- 
periority of our sailing. At sunset we had 
approached so near as to see their hulls, 
which indicated a prospect of soon passing 
them. At 1 1 o'clock the two vessels, which 
had been obscured from our view by the 
darkness of the evening, were now perceived 
to be quite near. We saw that they were 
large ships, and that our course would lead 
us between them, and quite near the wind- 
ward one, on our approach to which, and 

220 The Old Shipmasters 

just as we were about to hail her, her crew 
poured, or intended to pour, into us the 
contents of their two stern-chase guns. We 
were much surprised at this, and hailed 
them, dema'nding the reason for firing at us, 
but so great was the confusion of voices on 
the stranger we could not be heard. 

" We were rapidly passing them, and, as 
we ranged along, were successively saluted 
with five more guns, charged with grape, as 
we found by the shot which came on board, 
without, however, doing the least damage. 
We found by their language that they were 
Portuguese, and concluded that they mis- 
took us for a Patriot privateer, and, by the 
small report of their guns and imbecility of 
the fire, it was apparent that they must have 
been a long time charged, or their powder 
bad, — perhaps both. As we had not devi- 
ated from our course during the rencounter, 
had reduced no sail, and sailed much faster 
than our uncivil neighbor, we were soon out 
of his reach, and little further notice was 
taken of the affair by us than occasionally 
regretting that our own guns had not been 

Of Salem 221 

mounted at the time, which we conceived 
would have effectually prevented him from 
having all the exercise on his side. As we 
were at peace with all the world, it had not 
been considered necessary to take the guns 
on deck till we approached the Straits of 
Sunda, and they were at this moment re- 
clining on the ballast below. 

"On the 12th of March we saw and 
passed the island of Tristan d'Acunha. This 
island was taken formal possession of in 
1814, by Jonathan Lambert, of Salem. He 
issued a proclamation setting forth his rights 
to the soil, and invited navigators of all na- 
tions, whose route might lie near the island, 
to touch at his settlement for supplies needed 
on a long passage, and which he anticipated 
his industry would draw from the earth and 
the adjacent sea, and he signified his readi- 
ness to receive in payment for his products, 
which consisted of vegetables, fruits, and 
fish, whatever might be most convenient 
for his visitors to part with, that could in 
any way be useful to him and his associates 
in their solitary abode. 

222 The Old Shipmasters 

" For the purpose of being able to fully 
carry out his plans, Mr. Lambert took with 
hirh to the island various implements of 
husbandry, seeds of the most useful culinary 
plants which grew in the United States, 
tropical trees for transplanting, scions, etc. 
After Lambert had been on the island about 
two years, it was apparent that his efforts 
would be crowned with success, but, unfor- 
tunately, he was drowned soon after, while 
on a visit to one of the adjacent islands. 
Disheartened by this unfortunate occurrence, 
Lambert's associates, shortly after his death, 
left the islands in a ship which touched there. 

"We had the usual winds and weather 
experienced in passing the Cape of Good 
Hope, and in running up our 'easting,' 
which we did in latitude of about 40 degrees 
south. April 14th, we passed the islands of 
St. Paul and Amsterdam, without seeing 
them, however, the weather being hazy, 
and on May 4th, in the morning, we saw 
Java Head, at noon entered the Straits of 
Sunda, and on the 9th anchored in Batavia 

Captaia Thos. Fuller, ninety-one years of age. 
Captured by pirates in the brig Mexican, 1832. 

Of Salem 223 

"At II A.M. on the 24th, we discovered 
three large prows standing for us full of 
men, and each had two banks of oars, with 
a barricade built across their forecastles, in 
the center of which was a perforation, or 
embrasure, through which projected the 
muzzle of a large cannon. One of these 
vessels was larger than the others, and 
acted as commodore. We counted on one 
side of the boat 37 oars, and, presuming 
both sides equal, she was propelled by 74 
oars. Their formidable and hostile appear- 
ance designated them to us as a squadron 
of those piratical prows which infest all 
these straits between the Indian and Pacific 
oceans and the China Sea, who are always 
on the watch for small or defenseless ves- 
sels, and who, emboldened by some late 
successes, have ventured to attack even 
men-of-war, and so serious have been their 
depredations upon the commerce of the East 
of late years, and so shocking to humanity 
their savage cruelty to their prisoners, that 
merchant vessels seldom navigate singly 
those seas. 

224 The Old Shipmasters 

"As the evident intention of these prows 
was to attack us, preparations were being 
made to repel them. They approached with 
a great appearance of resolution till nearly 
within range of our guns, when they began 
to slacken and keep aloof, probably for the 
purpose of reconnoitering. With a view of 
ascertaining their distance from us, we gave 
them a shot from a six-pounder, which fell 
somewhat short. 

" Immediately, as if electrified by the sa- 
lute, every oar was set briskly to work, and 
they made directly for us, with every appear- 
ance of determined courage, tossing up the 
water with their oars, which moved without 
the least regularity, and assumed the appear- 
ance of the legs of a centipede in rapid mo- 
tion. They were permitted to approach 
within fair reach of our guns, when abroad- 
side was given them of three six-pounders. 
The shot of one passed over them, that of 
another dropped just under the quarter of 
the largest prow, and the third, striking the 
water a few yards short of her, bounded 
over her barricade and was lost to our view. 

Of Salem 225 

Great confusion was caused on board the 
squadron by this specimen of our gunnery, 
and the two smaller vessels pulled alongside 
the commodore, where they lay for some 

"Our course, to avoid a shoal, led us 
three miles to the southward of the enemy. 
On our approach nearer to the pirates we 
prepared to give them another broadside 
with grape and double round, but they 
thought proper to retire as we passed. Be- 
ing unwilling to have charged our guns to 
no purpose, we could not resist the impulse, 
which their piratical conduct had produced, 
and with a view to put our security beyond 
all question, to give them one more broad- 
side, the shot striking around them like hail. 

"The trucks of our gun carriages had 
been made of a species of wood which 
grows in the island of Sumatra, and was 
chosen for that purpose on account of its 
great hardness, but another essential qual- 
ity, that of being tough and not liable to 
split, was overlooked, for which omission 
we were on this occasion considerable suf- 

2 26 The Old Shipmasters 

ferers; one of our guns had already become 
useless, in consequence of the brittle quali- 
ties of the trucks, and two of the others 
were much injured, and our pleasure was 
by no means enhanced on perceiving our 
enemies make all sail in pursuit, who kept 
up a constant fire upon us, which was re- 
turned until our guns were all dismounted 
and lay upon deck. Their shot, however, 
did us no kind of injury, being spent short 
of us. Being now deprived of our artillery, 
and, in case of a calm, having no means of 
defense but our small-arms, we determined 
to steer for Mintow, a Dutch settlement in 
the island of Banka, then in sight, where we 
arrived in the evening, still followed by our 
troublesome pursuers to within a short dis- 
tance of the anchorage. On the following 
morning we went on shore, and related to 
the authorities the action which we had the 
preceding day. The Resident said he recog- 
nized in the prows we described pirates from 
the island of Fingin, a few leagues to the 
northward, who had, a few days previous, 
cut out a vessel on the roads one night di- 

Of Salem 227 

rectly under the guns of the fort, from which 
they had taken a considerable quantity of 
opium, with which they constantly kept 
themselves in a state of inebriety. 

"He assured us that the guns we had 
seen on board the prows were brass 18- 
pounders, that their crews were all armed 
with pikes or spears, and javelins and mus- 
kets. He pointed out on the beach a small 
trading brig, which had been captured off 
the Nauka Islands, in Banka Straits, by these 
very boats, and had been retaken a few days 
before by two Dutch gunboats, which had 
also captured one of their prows (now lying 
on the beach near the Chinese brig), the 
crew of which had fought with great des- 
peration, nor did they yield till every man 
of them had been desperately wounded, and 
even then, while lying on deck and incapa- 
ble of standing, thrusting with their spears 
and darting their javelins at their victors, by 
which some of the Dutch sailors were killed 
and many others badly wounded, some of 
whom had died from the malignity of the 
poison with which the weapons of the 

228 The Old Shipmasters 

pirates had been imbued. Only eight men 
of the crew of the prow, which numbered 
100, survived the battle. 

"Added to the natural ferocity of the 
temper of the pirates was a free use of 
opium, combined with the juice of a root 
called 'bang.' These stimulants, when as- 
sociated with their Mahometan persuasion 
of the doctrine of predestination, render 
them totally exempt from fear, produce the 
most ungovernable rage and desperation, 
and stimulate them to deeds of the most 
savage and diabolical barbarity. . . . 
After making needful repairs and remount- 
ing the guns with new trucks, the Franklin 
proceeded to sea in company with an Eng- 
lish brig bound for Singapore. 

" On the 7th of June we descried Cape 
St. James, and, on the following morning, 
having come to anchor opposite the village 
of Vung Han, our boat was despatched to 
the village. On the boat's landing, a trum- 
pet was sounded in the grove, and we could 
see a considerable bustle among the inhabi- 
tants. On the officer's landing he was im- 

Of Salem 229 

mediately surrounded and escorted to the 
house of the chief, who was a military 
mandarin commanding in that station. The 
officer tried to make himself understood that 
we were in want of a pilot to conduct us up 
to the city of Saigon, but was unsuccessful 
at first. Soon after the boat's return we 
were informed by the officer on deck that a 
large boat full of men was approaching round 
the west point of the bay. We at once re- 
paired on deck and saw that the stranger 
had his masts and yards decorated with 
pendants and a formidable display of spears 
ornamented with tufts of hair attached to 
the staves. It was consequently thought 
proper, for the double purpose of safety and 
ceremony, to have the crew drawn up on 
the quarter and main decks with muskets, 
pikes, etc. , ready for their reception. When 
scarcely within hail they began to vociferate 
very loudly, repeating the word solan, and 
approaching with much caution ; encouraged, 
however, by our amiable deportment and 
conciliatory gestures, they ventured to come 
alongside. The chiefs, of whom there were 

230 The Old Shipmasters 

three, at our solicitations came on deck. 
We were obliged to have recourse to our 
telegraphic dictionary of signs in order to 
communicate with the chiefs. We learned 
that the oldest chief was commander of 
the military district which embraced all the 
country, including the several outlets of the 
Donnai-noir; that he resided at Canjeo, a 
village about seven miles to the westward, 
and situated on the island of Dong Theang, 
which is the first land on the south side of 
the entrance, and that we must there wait 
for permission of the viceroy or governor to 
approach the city. Having ascertained that 
the subordinate chiefs were acquainted with 
the navigation of the river, we weighed 
anchor and proceeded up to Canjeo, where 
we arrived and moored at 2 p.m. on the 
same day. 

"On this first interview with the natives 
of the country we were much surprised to 
find their manners so different from what 
we had been led to expect from the accounts 
we had had of them. We were now con- 
vinced that the Cochin Chinese were in 

Of Salem 231 

many respects but little removed from a 
state of deplorable barbarism. The military 
chief was a withered, gray-headed old man, 
possessing, however, a great deal of viva- 
city. ... He had several attendants,who 
were perfectly subservient, and promptly 
obedient to all his orders. One of the at- 
tendants carried a huge umbrella, with 
which he followed the old man to all parts 
of the ship, and, when invited into the cabin, 
he would not descend without the umbrella, 
so tenacious was he of every circumstance 
of state and appearance. 

" Another attendant was a handsome boy 
of about 1 5 years of age, who carried, in 
two blue silk bags, the areka nut, betel leaf, 
chunan, and tobacco, of which they chew 
immense quantities. Another servant car- 
ried a fan. Our risibility was not a little 
excited on seeing the old fellow strutting 
about the deck, prying into the cook's cop- 
pers, embracing the sailors on the forecastle, 
dancing, grinning, and playing many other 
antic tricks, followed by the whole train of 
fanners, umbrella-bearers, and chunan boys. 

232 The Old Shipmasters 

The dress of the chiefs consisted of a very 
short and coarse cotton shirt, which had 
been originally white ; trousers of black 
crape, very wide, without waistband, and 
secured round the waist by a sash of crim- 
son silk; a tunic of black or blue silk, a tur- 
ban of black crape, and coarse wooden 

"After visiting every part of the ship, the 
old mandarin began to court my favor with 
the most unyielding pertinacity, hugging 
me round the neck, attempting to thrust his 
betel-nut into my mouth from his own, and 
leaping upon me like a dog, from which 1 
was nearly suffocated. I finally succeeded 
in extricating myself from the ardor of his 
caresses, and getting to the windward side 
of him, which 1 maintained, notwithstanding 
his reiterated efforts to dislodge me. At first 
we could not account for his sudden and 
violent fit of unsolicited friendship, but in a 
short time the mystery was completely un- 

"One of the inferior chiefs intimated a 
wish to descend to the cabin, which was 

Of Salem 233 

granted. No sooner had we entered it than, 
pointing to the looking-glass, he gave us to 
understand that he must have that for the 
old chief. Being somewhat surprised at the 
demand, we smiled, and, endeavoring to di- 
vert his attention, presented him a bottle of 
brandy and a glass to help himself, which 
he did not hesitate to do most abundantly, 
and then, giving us to understand that he 
considered the vessels as a present, passed 
them to his attendants, who, after swallow- 
ing the liquor, deposited them under their 
robes. The mandarin then renewed his 
•solicitations, nor was there a single article 
in sight that he did not demand, and in a 
manner to impress us with the idea that a 
refusal would give great umbrage to the 
chief on deck." 


Captain of the Franklin in a Sea of Trouble — Chiefs Demand Presents 
— Captain Attends Reception by the Officials — He is Tendered a 
Banquet — Difficulty in Getting Permission to Ascend the Donnai 

r^APTAIN WHITE'S Journal continues : 
^^ "We were forced to purchase peace 
and good-will at the expense of a pair of 
pistols to the old chief, 25 cartridges, 12 
flints, one six-pound canister of powder, 
two pair of shoes, a shirt, six bottles of 
wine, three of rum, and three of French 
cordial, a cut-glass tumbler, and a Dutch 
cheese. Nor were the attendants neglected 
in the general amnesty, and each of them 
received some trifling article of clothing as a 
propitiatory offering. 

"Old Heo, the mandarin, was now in 
high spirits again, and, in the wantonness 

of his benevolence, took off his old blue silk 


The Old Shipmasters of Salem 235 

robe, with which he very graciously invested 
me, at the same time shrugging and inti- 
mating that he was cold. I took the hint, 
and sent for a white jacket, which 1 assisted 
him in putting on. At this attention he 
appeared highly gratified. A demand was 
now made for some refreshments, and we 
spread before them some biscuit, cold beef, 
ham, brandy, fruit, and cheese. Of the 
biscuit and cheese they ate voraciously, 
seasoning their repast with bumpers of raw 

" It was now proposed by the chiefs that 
our guns should be drawn, and that the 
commander should accompany them on 
shore. We refused to comply with their 
first proposition. 1, however, prepared to 
accompany them to the village, taking with 
me Mr. Bessel, a young gentleman who 
acted in the capacity of clerk. On our ap- 
proach to the shore, our olfactory nerves 
were saluted with the rankest compound 
of villainous smells that ever offended nos- 
tril ; and the natives of the place, consisting 
principally of men, women, children, swine, 

236 The Old Shipmasters 

and mangy dogs, lined the muddy banks of 
the Stygian stream to welcome our landing. 
We passed immediately to the house of the 

"This house stood at a little distance 
from the compact part of the village, and 
was somewhat larger and in better style 
than the huts we had passed in approaching 
it. Here 1 feel myself incompetent to do 
justice in portraying the scene which en- 
sued; my descriptive powers are totally 
inadequate; nothing but the pencil of a 
Hogarth or a Teniers could convey an ade- 
quate idea of the original. So irresistibly 
ludicrous was the scene that it was with 
the utmost difficulty we could keep our 
risible muscles in subjection. The apart- 
ment into which we were ushered was 
about 25 feet square, and this we found 
was the usual hall of audience. The floor 
was composed of a mixture of sand and 
clay, which by constant attrition had be- 
come very compact and solid. The walls 
were decorated with rusty swords, shields, 
match-locks, gongs, and spears. 

Of Salem 237 

"On each side of the entrance was an 
enormous brass drum, mounted on a clumsy 
wooden frame, and struck at stated periods 
with bamboo by a soldier on guard. On a 
raised platform were seated two miserable- 
looking objects undergoing the punishment 
of the caungue, or yoke. This punishment 
is inflicted by placing over the culprit's 
neck, and resting upon his shoulders, two 
pieces of bamboo about ten feet in length 
each, and secured parallel to each other by 
two strong wooden bars which pass on 
each side of the neck, embracing it very 
closely, and give the criminal the appear- 
ance of carrying a ladder on his shoulders. 
Directly back of this platform was an en- 
trance into another apartment devoted to 
domestic purposes, before which hung a 
coarse screen of split bamboo, closely 
woven, which concealed from our view the 
women, children, and pigs behind it, who 
were amicably and jointly partaking of the 
contents of a huge wooden tray which was 
placed in the middle of the floor. 

"On each side of a recess, in gaudy 

238 The Old Shipmasters 

colors, were displayed several paintings of 
prodigious monsters, 'chimeras dire,' and 
many other heterogeneous productions, and 
in the center stood a table on which were 
placed a censer of brass, a basin of the 
same material filled nearly to the top with 
ashes, in which were stuck a great number 
of matches, the ends of which had been 
burnt, and a little bronze joss or god. 
Seated upon a platform was a venerable- 
looking object, his arms akimbo and his 
legs crossed like a tailor's. We were led 
up directly in front of the throne and re- 
ceived by this august personage. He asked 
us to be seated, or rather motioned to two 
vacant chairs, and then addressed us in 
their language, but not a word of it could 
we understand, yet the voice sounded fa- 
miliar to us, and on a nearer scrutiny we 
recognized our recent guest, but now most 
dignified host, old Heo. The grim and 
sable visages of the attendants, the grave 
and solemn deportment of the mandarin, 
the grotesque assemblage of monsters in 
the recess, and the discordant noises of the 





-^ K ^ 


Of Salem 239 

human and brute concert with which we 
were still regaled, transported us in idea 
to other regions. Such a scene must have 
been in the mind's eye of Milton when he 
wrote his animated and minute description 
of the Court of Pandemonium. 

"A table was set before us, on which 
were placed a China tea equipage, a large 
dish of boiled rice, together with a piece of 
boiled fresh pork, very fat and oily. The 
old chief then began tearing the food in 
piecemeal with his long claws and thrust- 
ing it into our mouths, between every 
thrust holding a large bowl of tea to our 
lips with the most cruel perseverance, to the 
utter hazard of suffocating us, till finally, 
losing all patience at his tormenting hospi- 
tality, and finding prayers and utterances 
of no avail, 1 stepped back and clapped my 
hand on my dirk, darting at him at the 
same time a frown of displeasure. He de- 
sisted from any further importunity, and we 
were permitted to help ourselves in our 
own way. 

" A bottle of rum and another of cordial. 

240 The Old Shipmasters 

a part of the pillage from our ship, were now 
produced, and a glass of the latter we were 
glad to take as an antidote to the effects of 
our meal. The old man now applied him- 
self most vigorously to the liquors, and in a 
few moments had despatched the cordial, 
and then opened the bottle of rum. On our 
refusal to partake with him he applied it to 
his own lips, and we were struck with ad- 
miration to see 

"How long, how deep, how zealously. 
The precious juice he quaffed " 

not, however, untinctured with a degree of 
apprehension on our part of fatal effects from 
his debauch. 

" Perceiving that the mandarin would 
shortly be unfit to transact business, I has- 
tened to communicate my wishes of being 
supplied with a pilot, and immediately as- 
cending the river, which he seemed to un- 
derstand, and, shaking his head, drew his 
hand across his throat and then across mine, 
as if to intimate that we should both lose 
our heads if that request was complied with. 

Of Salem 241 

I said I would go up in my boat ; at this the 
signs were repeated. He, however, gave 
me to understand that he would transmit to 
Saigon an account of a strange vessel being 
in the river and demand permission for her 
to come up to the city, and that an answer 
would be returned in two days. Some 
orders were given to an officer, who at 
once retired, as 1 understood, for the pur- 
pose of despatching a messenger to Saigon. 
We left our host who was in a state of 

"We afterwards saw the chief civil mag- 
istrate and demanded permission to proceed 
up the river, but with the same ill success 
as before. Subsequently we saw the man- 
darin again, and he informed us that he 
would prepare the despatch to be sent to 
Saigon immediately, and minuted down the 
number of men on board the brig, arma- 
ment, etc., with an assurance that in two 
days the messenger would return. We now 
expressed a wish to take leave, when we were 
informed by the mandarin that he intended 
to go on board with us, and had sent orders 

242 The Old Shipmasters 

to prepare a boat for that purpose. We 
immediately embarked, and in a short time 
arrived on board. 

"We were now somewhat better pre- 
pared for the visit of the mandarin than at 
first, and had our movables placed out of 
sight ; but the steward, happened to open 
the door of a stateroom, where part of our 
arms were deposited, they quickly caught 
the eye of our visitor, who entered the room, 
and taking a musket from the stand, passed 
it to an attendant. In this design he was 
prevented and an inferior one offered him. 
He then became very surly and we were 
obliged to conciliate him at the expense of 
the best musket, a yard of red cloth, several 
bottles of sweet wine, shoes, ammunition, 
etc. And here it may be well to observe 
that on this and every other occasion of 
visits from these people, while we were in 
the country, their demands were made in a 
most systematic manner ; the inferior chiefs 
play the jackal for their superior, who recip- 
rocate the favor in the same manner. We 
found them a set of sturdy beggars, never 

Of Salem 243 

expressing any gratitude for the presents 
which they received, or omitting any op- 
portunity of taking every advantage of us, 
or stealing M'hatever lay in their v/ay. 

" Old Heo visited us on the follovs^ing day, 
and invited us to go on shore to a feast, but 
as we w^ere quite satisfied with our regale 
on the preceding day, it was thought best 
to decline. The next morning, June 11, a 
message came from the civil magistrate that 
we should shortly be favored with a visit, 
and accordingly, at about 1 1 o'clock, we 
saw him leave the creek, and in a few mo- 
ments he was longside of us. A repetition 
of their shameless and insolent conduct was 
again displayed, and nothing but fear of act- 
ing contrary to our own interests prevented 
us from turning them out of the ship. We 
therefore concealed the resentment and con- 
tempt with which they had inspired us, and 
permitted them to drink deep of the Lethean 
draught which was to drown all their cares, 
and was the object of their fondest desires. 
We considered, also, that the sooner they 
were intoxicated the sooner we should be 

244 The Old Shipmasters 

rid of their importunity; nor were our hopes 
in this respect defeated, for in about half an 
hour they took to their boat and pulled off, 
leaving a small pig and some fruit, assuring 
us on their departure that we should receive 
our pass in two days ! 

"The following day Heo visited us again. 
He had a large number of his chiefs and 
people in the boat with him. As we did 
not feel altogether safe with so many coming 
on deck, we had all hands called to quarter, 
and preparations were made to act on the 
defensive. Heo looked around, and, seeing 
our warlike attitude, appeared to be some- 
what embarrassed. He slipped his arm un- 
der mine and took several turns with me, 
measuring his steps with great exactness, to 
keep time with me. I again demanded the 
pass to proceed to Saigon, and informed him 
that we suspected that they were merely 
amusing us, that we would inform the great 
mandarin at Saigon how we had been 
treated, and that he would know how to 
punish them as they deserved. He appeared 
considerably surprised at this declaration, 

Of Salem 245 

but, as if the subject were a disagreeable 
one, he soon waived it in favor of a new 
demand upon us to go on shore to a great 
buffalo hunt, which was exemplified at the 
chief's Instance, by one of the attendants, 
who, first pointing the forefinger of each 
hand up on each side of his head, and then, 
getting down on all fours, galloped round 
the deck, pursued by the whole train in full 
cry, to our no small amusement. Heo was 
now assailed by us with a new proposition. 
I demanded to embark immediately with 
him and his boat, and go up to the city, to 
which he replied, that if we would throw 
out the long-boat, and go on shore with 
the whole ship's company to the hunt, on 
the morrow he would grant us permission 
to go up the river. Struck with astonish- 
ment at this declaration, we demanded of 
him to inform us if our arrival had been 
made known at the city, on which he tacitly 
acknowledged that it had not, and assured 
us that the option of granting or refusing 
our demands was his, but he refused to 
assign any cause for keeping us so long in 

246 The Old Shipmasters 

ignorance of his power in this respect. They 
now left us, with the promise of an early 
visit on the following day. 

"At about 10 o'clock our visitors made 
their appearance. Dissatisfaction and mu- 
tual dislike of each other were now evidently 
making rapid progress in our minds, and our 
excitement became shortly so great as to 
restore us in some measure to the use of our 
signs again. And they motioned that we 
should draw the charges from our guns. 
Our refusal to do it was given in a way to 
impress them with the belief that we ex- 
pected soon to have use of them. Appar- 
ently undismayed at this intimation, they 
pointed down the hatchway, repeating the 
word 'baak' (meaning money or silver). 
Pretending not to notice them, we made 
one more effort to draw the attention of the 
chief to the subject of our pass, but we could 
get no answer but a shake of the head, and 
a motion alternately across our throats. 

"Towards the close of the day we ob- 
served an unusual number of boats enter 
the creek, and a great bustle was noticed 

Of Salem 247 

on shore. In the evening, the confused 
noise of gongs, tom-toms, and voices had 
increased to a considerable degree. We 
could not imagine the cause of the din, un- 
less it were to demonstrate their joy at the 
capture of a smuggler on the previous day. 
We weighed anchor and stood out towards 
the cape, and at daylight on the 13th we 
were clear of the land, and shaped our 
course to the northward. . . . 

"An instance of the summary devastation 
of locusts occurred while I was at Manila. 
A Frenchman who, from various causes, had 
lost a large property, returned to the island, 
where he formed an extensive sugar planta- 
tion. The season was fine, the young plants 
had come forward, assumed every appear- 
ance of health and vigor, and clothed his 
grounds with the most lively verdure. These 
auspicious appearances excited in the bosom 
of the owner the most pleasing emotions, 
and gave birth to happy presages and the 
hope of being enabled to retrieve his fallen 
fortunes. In this felicitous frame of mind he 
was seated at the door of his cottage, with 

248 The Old Shipmasters 

his family around him, enjoying the beauties 
of a fine tropical evening, which was spent 
in mutual congratulations on the prospects 
of future independence. On the following 
morning the astonishment and agony of the 
unfortunate planter may be conceived on 
finding that not one vestige of vegetation 
was to be discovered upon his extensive 
grounds ! Nothing was presented to his 
view but a bare and melancholy expanse of 
brown earth. The locusts had poured down 
in legions upon his defenseless lands, and 
robbed them of their valuable burthen. 

" It was a subject of no little astonishment 
to me, on inquiring, to find how little was 
known in Manila respecting the neighboring 
kingdom of Cochin China, and 1 could ac- 
count for it in no other way than from the 
anti-commercial character of both those 
countries when compared with most nations 
of India. ... It will be recollected that 
we lay five days at Canjeo, in the Donnai 
River, in the early part of June, waiting un- 
successfully for permission to proceed to 
Saigon. It is somewhat remarkable that, 

Of Salem 249 

as ours was the first American vessel that 
had ever been at Canjeo, or attempted to 
ascend the Donnai River, another should 
have arrived there a fev/ days after our sail- 
ing from thence, with the same views we 
had entertained. This was the ship Mar- 
mion, of Boston, commanded by Oliver 

" It seems Captain Blanchard was equally 
unsuccessful with myself in his attempts to 
ascend the river and trade at Saigon. The 
authorities would not take doubloons in ex- 
change for commercial commodities without 
great discount. These impediments to trade 
which the gold presented, determined Cap- 
tain Blanchard to proceed to Manila for a 
cargo, but he was taken sick before he left 
the city, and died after the ship left Canjeo, 
but before she was out of the river. By this 
event the command devolved upon the chief 
officer, Mr. John Brown, who, in conjunction 
with the former clerk, Mr. Putnam, proceeded 
to put in execution the intentions of their 
late commander, and on the 22d of June the 
Marmion arrived at Cavity. In the course 

250 The Old Shipmasters of Salem 

of a conversation I had with these gentlemen 
a plan was suggested, canvassed, and finally 
determined on, to return in company to 
Donnai, after the Marmion should receive 
some necessary repairs, and time had been 
given to exchange the gold then on board 
for Spanish dollars. Our reasons in keeping 
company on this expedition were for mutual 
protection while penetrating into the heart 
of a country so little known, up a river with 
the navigation of which we, in common 
with nearly all the world, were unacquainted, 
and, consequently, when there in the power 
of a people who, though they might be suf- 
ficiently powerful to detain a single vessel, 
would probably, should any intentions of 
the kind exist, be overawed by the presence 
of two." 


Narrow Escape from Tigers — Startling Phienomenon — Pagoda Dedi- 
cated to Evil Spirits — Natives Worship the Devil through Fear — 
The Bewitched Dog — Arrival of the Marmion — Diplomacy of Mr. 

/^APTAIN WHITE'S Journal grows in in- 
^^ terest the further we peruse it. In the 
last chapter his narrative closed at the point 
where it was agreed between the com- 
mander of the Franklin and the new com- 
mander of the ship Marmion to return in 
company to the Donnai. It was a venture 
fraught with much hardship and many perils. 
The Journal goes on to say: 

"The last days of August and the first 
days of September were marked with strong 
gales from the southwest, with vast quanti- 
ties of rain, during which arrived the Beverly, 
an American ship from Boston, belonging 
to the owner of the Marmion. She had 


252 The Old Shipmasters 

attempted to beat up against the monsoon 
from Turon to Cape St. James, but after 
being a long while on the coast of Cochin 
China, contending with constant southwest 
gales, she was obliged to give up the strug- 
gle and proceed to Manila. 

"The Marmion being now ready for sea, on 
the 6th day of September we took leave of 
Cavity and proceeded out of the bay. For 
the purpose of being well to windward, our 
course had been shaped so as to range 
within a few leagues of the northern limits 
of the various banks, shoals, and reefs scat- 
tered in great profusion over that part of the 
China Sea situated to the westward of the 
island of Palawan. This precaution was 
the means of shortening the passage consid- 
erably, for when we reached the 1 12th de- 
gree of east longitude the wind veered round 
to the south and westward, in which quar- 
ter it prevailed during the residue of the pas- 
sage. On arriving at Canjeo we learnt that 
the Aurora of Salem, commanded by Cap- 
tain Robert Gould, had been on the river 
since the departure of the Marmion. After 

Of Salem 253 

his departure from the Donnai, we learned 
that he visited the island of Cham Callao, 
whence the captain proceeded to Turon, but 
being unsuccessful in his attempts to trade 
there, he afterwards proceeded to Manila. 
We were also informed that another ship 
had stretched into the bay of Vung Han, and 
lay near the land one day without anchor- 
ing, after which she bore up and stood to 
the northward. This ship was the Beverly, 
Captain John Gardner, which had arrived at 
Manila a few days previous to our sailing 
from there, as has been mentioned. . . . 
"Invitations were sent to us to visit the 
mandarins frequently, but we determined 
to avail ourselves of their civilities no fur- 
ther than our business demanded, as we 
had been made sensible of the actual 
cost of this kind of intercourse on our 
first visit to their country. In the after- 
noon, after having visited the bazaar and 
purchased a few articles of refreshments 
for the ships' companies, we returned 
on board for the benefit of fresh air. On 
the following morning our curiosity led 

254 The Old Shipmasters 

us to visit a small pagoda erected on the 
Daijang point, dedicated to the evil spirit ; 
for these people, like some of our Indian 
tribes, worship the devil from fear. 

" We took our fov/ling-pieces with us, in 
expectation of meeting game, and our car- 
penters being in want of some knees to re- 
pair boats, axes were taken with us with 
the view of penetrating into the woods to 
cut some. After we had gained terra firma, 
no little difficulty was experienced in getting 
through the close jungles of mangrove and 
other trees whose roots and branches spread 
themselves into the most fantastic shapes, 
and were interwoven with each other in 
every direction, while various procumbent 
plants crossed our path, and the earth under 
them — which was a perfect morass — gave 
way to the weight of our bodies, so that we 
sunk nearly to our knees at every step. 

"We now proceeded to examine the pa- 
goda, near which we had landed. The 
frame was composed of rough trunks of 
trees, and the walls were constructed of 
small poles, closely interwoven with osiers, 

Of Salem 255 

and the roof was thatched with palm-leaves. 
At the further end of the room, which was 
about 15 feet square, was seated a small 
wooden idol with an elephant's proboscis, 
not unlike some of the objects of Hindoo 
worship, but of the most rude and dispro- 
portionate manufacture. On the other side 
of the table was placed a brazen censer and 
an earthen vessel half filled with ashes. The 
whole establishment was in a ruinous state 
and appeared to be seldom visited. 

"On relating the incidents of our excur- 
sion on shore to the linguist in the after- 
noon, he appeared to be astonished at our 
escape from the tigers, of which vast num- 
bers infest the woods, and told us that the 
spot of ground around the pagoda had been 
cleared beyond the leap of these animals on 
account of the depredations that had been 
committed by them previous to the adop- 
tion of the precautionary measure of de- 
stroying their coverts, and that any attempt 
to penetrate into the jungle was considered 
eminently hazardous. 

"After some further discussion with the 

256 The Old Shipmasters 

mandarin, we offered to pay the expense of 
a boat to take two persons to Saigon imme- 
diately, and to advance thirty dollars to the 
mandarin and linguist, for which amount 
they were to give an order on the govern- 
ment at the city, to be deducted from our 
charges in the event of our proceeding up 
to it in the ships ; and they, after a due 
proportion of doubling and shifting, ac- 
cepted the proposition. Mr. Putnam of the 
Marmion, and a sailor who spoke Portu- 
guese, were selected for the mission, as they 
had before been there with Captain Blanch- 
ard. At six o'clock they started on their trip. 
"Being on shore the following day, a 
favorite spaniel strayed from me, and my 
efforts to find him were fruitless, so I was 
reluctantly obliged to return on board with- 
out poor Pinto. I directed the linguist to 
offer the natives a reward for him, but so 
great was their dread of the tigers that none 
of them would undertake the search ; nor 
were we surprised at their reluctance when 
the interpreter informed us that all the 
woods around the village were filled with 

Of Salem 257 

wild animals, and that it was not infre- 
quently the case for the inhabitants to be 
carried off by them, and that we might at- 
tribute our escape from their fangs to the 
report of our guns, which had intimidated 

"It was not Pinto's fate, however, to 
furnish food for the tigers, for, on the third 
day after losing him, he was discovered on 
the beach by an officer in one of the boats, 
who was going on shore to the bazaar, but 
no effort he made could induce the dog to 
come near him ; and it was not till the boat 
had been sent the third time, with a sailor 
who was a particular favorite of his, that 
we gained possession of him. But the most 
complete metamorphosis had been effected 
in his character and appearance by his tem- 
porary separation from us, for from being a 
lively, playful, and bold dog, he had now 
become dull, morose, and timid, scarcely 
deigning to notice our caresses ; and, from 
being round and fat, he had become in that 
short time a mere skeleton. This anecdote, 
trifling in itself, I should not have men- 

258 The Old Shipmasters 

tioned, but for the consequent light it threw 
on the proneness of these people to super- 
stitious ideas, for they gravely assured us 
that the tigers had bewitched the dog, and 
that he was now endued With supernatural 
powers, and should no longer be treated as a 
dog, but as a being of superior intelligence. 

"On the first day of October, being the 
fifth since our arrival, the interpreter came 
on board and informed us that we might 
proceed up the river as far as Naga Bay till 
we received permission to go up to the city. 
"^We weighed anchor and sailed, but the fre- 
quent calms obliged us to anchor often. At 
10 in the evening we had only gained about 
three miles from Canjeo, when we anchored 
for the night. Besides the linguist, who was 
occasionally on board each vessel, we had 
two soldiers who were to direct us how to 

"Our sails were scarcely furled when 
two boats were perceived coming down the 
river. Our linguist began to manifest strong 
symptoms of trepidation, and informed us 
that he .feared that they were ladrones or 

Of Salem 259 

pirates, with which he said the river 
abounded. He had scarcely made this dec- 
laration before we were hailed in English, 
when we immediately recognized the voice 
of Mr. Putnam, who proclaimed that he had 
been successful in his commission. His 
joyful tidings were received with three 
hearty cheers from both ships, and answered 
by the reverberations of a thousand echoes 
from the interminable forests which were 
spread on each side of us. He was accom- 
panied by an old Portuguese called Joachim, 
who was born in Lisbon, but who had not 
been in Europe within 40 years. He was 
married in Siam, and claimed that as his 
country, having abnegated his own. He 
had resided some months in Saigon, which 
he visited on his way from Turin, where he 
left a Portuguese brig in consequence of a 
quarrel with the captain, as he stated. As 
he had made considerable proficiency in the 
Anamese language and could talk French 
and Portuguese fluently, he was considered 
a valuable acquisition. 
"Mr. Putnam was cordially received by 

26o The Old Shipmasters 

the authorities. He was assured that there 
would be no difficulty in procuring cargoes 
immediately. According to arrangements, 
Joachim was sent on board the ship, and the 
linguist, who was a Christian Cochin Chi- 
nese, named Mariano, was appropriated to 
the brig, which was to lead, as pilot and 

"The flood tide coming in at about lo 
o'clock we again weighed anchor, and a 
few moments opened to us a view of a 
large sheet of water having the appearance 
of a capacious estuary, with the foam of 
numerous conflicting currents rippling upon 
its surface. This, our linguist informed us, 
was Naga Bay, or sete-bocas, into which we 
were rapidly borne by a strong tide. A 
pleasant breeze from the north filling our 
loftiest sails, which overtopped the sur- 
rounding forest, we were not long in pass- 
ing it. 

"The prospect from this noble basin, 
though possessing few features of the sub- 
lime, was beautiful and romantic. Lofty 
and venerable trees crowned the points 

Of Salem 261 

formed by the affluence of the several 
streams, which, branching in various direc- 
tions, like so many radii from a center, pre- 
sented to view long vistas, fringed on each 
side with foliage of different shades of ver- 
dure, while their polished surfaces reflected, 
with chastened beauty, the varied tints of 
the impending forests. 

" From the contemplation of this fascina- 
ting scene our attention was diverted to a 
new and curious phenomenon. Our ears 
were saluted by a variety of sounds re- 
sembling the deep bass of an organ, accom- 
panied by the hollow guttural chant of the 
bullfrog, the heavy chimes of a bell, and the 
tones which imagination would give to an 
immense jewsharp. This combination pro- 
duced a thrilling sensation on the nerves, 
and, as we fancied, a tremendous motion in 
the vessel. The excitement of curiosity 
was visible on every white face on board, 
and many were the sage speculations of the 
sailors on this occasion. Anxious to dis- 
cover the cause of this gratuitous concert, I 
went into the cabin where I found the 

262 The Old Shipmasters 

noise, which I soon ascertained proceeded 
from the bottom of the vessel, increased to 
a full and uninterrupted chorus. The per- 
ceptions which occurred to me on this occa- 
sion were similar to those produced by the 
torpedo, or electric eel, which I had before 
felt. But whether these feelings were 
caused by the concussion of sound, or by 
actual vibrations in the body of the vessel, I 
could neither then nor have I since deter- 
mined. In a few minutes the sounds, 
which had commenced near the stern of 
the vessel, became general throughout the 
whole length of the bottom. Our linguist 
informed us that the strange sounds were 
caused by a shoal of fish, of a flat, oval 
form, like a flounder, which, by a certain 
conformation of the mouth, possesses the 
power of adhesion to other objects in a 
wonderful degree, and that they were pe- 
culiar to the 'Seven Mouths.' But whether 
the noises we heard were produced by any 
particular construction of the sonorific or- 
gans, or by spasmodic vibrations of the 
body, he was ignorant. After proceeding a 

Of Salem 263 

mile, our musical fellow-voyagers were no 
more heard. 

"No variation had taken place in the feat- 
ures of the country since leaving Canjeo, 
and nothing was visible from the deck be- 
yond the banks of the river. Thousands 
of monkeys were chattering and gamboling 
in the trees, and with the glass we could 
perceive several of them perched among the 
foliage, surveying with great apparent inter- 
est the novel spectacle presented to their 
view. Mariano, the interpreter, who had 
ever since our leaving Canjeo expressed 
great fears of the ladrones, who he told us 
infested the river, was now unusually appre- 
hensive of an attack by them. He related 
several stories of vessels which had been 
cut off by them, and that a Siamese junk, 
the preceding year, which was then at Sai- 
gon, had beat off a band of them who had 
boarded her, with the loss of many lives on 
both sides. He therefore stated the abso- 
lute necessity of a strict watch during the 
night, and desired us not to permit any boat 
to come alongside after dark, as no honest 

264 The Old Shipmasters 

people, he observed, could want to visit us 
at that time. I told him that we should 
be always ready to repel attacks from any 
quarter. This assurance appeared to give 
him great satisfaction. ... As the 
Marmion had been left at some distance 
astern in the course of the last tide, we did 
not weigh anchor on the sixth till more 
than an hour after the commencement of 
the flood tide, when, her topgallant-sails and 
royals appearing over the trees in the reach 
below us, we again lifted our anchor and 
spread all our canvas to a gentle gale from 
the southwest. Passing along, a woman 
was seen guiding a plough drawn by a buf- 
falo. Our linguist told us that she was pre- 
paring the land to sow rice, 

" For some hours a mass of heavy black 
clouds had been accumulating in the north- 
ern quarter, and had now assumed a very 
formidable aspect. One of the soldiers we 
had on board assured us that no apprehen- 
sion need be entertained on account of these 
ominous appearances. In a few moments, 
however, the tempest approached us with 




Of Salem 265 

a most threatening aspect. The pregnant 
clouds, rolling forward with great impetu- 
osity, darkness almost impenetrable, succeed- 
ing the clear and tranquil twilight, enveloping 
in its dim shades the surrounding objects, 
the most tremendous thunder, bursting 
with deafening peals over our heads, and 
the gleaming lightning in flashes of rapid 
succession, temporarily depriving us of the 
power of vision, were the immediate pre- 
cursors of the gale. A vivid flash of light 
at this moment disclosed the entrance of 
the river. 

"The heaviest anchor was immediately 
dropped, and the vessel swung with impetu- 
ous force to the gale, and rendered all our 
efforts to secure the sails unsuccessful. The 
leadsman who had been ordered to sound 
from the stern found himself embowered in 
a thick forest which overhung that part of 
the ship. The storm continued for about 
half an hour with unabated fury, when the 
thunder began to roll away in the distance, 
and the flashes of lightning which had filled 
the air with liquid fire were now ' beautifully 

266 The Old Shipmasters of Salem 

less.' At 2 o'clock on the morning of the 
7th we were again pursuing our course 
towards our destination. As the Marmion 
had not been in sight since the preceding 
day, we were under serious apprehensions 
that some accident had befallen her," 


Arrival of the Franklin at Saigon — Captain Wliite's Graphic Descrip- 
tion of the Natives — His Visit to an Ofificial's House — Reception 
by the Governor — Description of Saigon. 

/^^APTAIN WHITE and crew were appre- 
^^ hensive as to the fate of the ship 
Marmion. It is not to be wondered at that 
the captain was sorely troubled, when it is 
remembered that that ship and her master 
were closely identified with his own venture 
of ascending a river upon which they would 
be beset with manifold dangers. That he 
weighed anchor with much reluctance and 
many misgivings can also be well imagined. 
He was being separated from friends speak- 
ing his own language, and was about to 
face unknown trials. Captain White was 
well fitted, however, for the hazardous du- 
ties he was called upon to assume. It can 
truly be said of him: 

"He screwed his courage to the sticking place, 
And did not fail." 


268 The Old Shipmasters 

Captain White's Journal continues : 
"In the afternoon of the 7th of October 
we arrived and moored before the city of 
Saigon. The distance we had sailed from 
Cap,e St. James to the city was 59^ miles, 
with the meanderings of the river. A few 
moments after we had moored, a covered 
boat came alongside, and several people, 
who from their garb and number of attend- 
ants, appeared to be of superior rank, came 
on board, one of whom, addressing us in 
good Spanish, congratulated us on our ar- 
rival and gave me an invitation to his house. 
I accepted the invitation to visit him at his 
abode, a part of which was visible between 
the trunks of the areka-nut trees and shrub- 
bery by which it was shaded. 

" Pasqual's daughter, a coarse girl of 19, 
was seated in a corner weaving a sort of 
rough silk stuff of a yellowish color, about 
18 inches wide. The loom, though of rude 
construction, did not differ materially in 
principle from ours. Among the members 
of the family, whose curiosity was excited 
by the novelty of the spectacle which we 

Of Salem 269 

presented, was a blear-eyed old woman, 
furrowed and smoke-dried, whose black- 
ened and lank jaws and gums, sans teeth, 
grinned horribly a ghastly smile. A few 
hoary elf-locks undulated on her palsied 
pate, whose vibrations, which at first view 
might have been mistaken for courtesy, 
were by no means in unison with the hag- 
like expression of her visage. This super- 
structure was placed on a pedestal, which 
resembled one of those curiously carved 
balusters which decorate the staircases of 
some old-fashioned mansions, according to 
that laudable style of architecture which 
has now, unhappily, become obsolete. The 
shape of the base, for she was sitting, if 
shape it may be called, resembled a mass 
of matter which had undergone the process 
of fusion. 

"After having gratified our curiosity in 
examining the various objects which were 
presented to view, we were reconducted to 
the veranda, ■ where tea and confectionery 
were presented us. A female figure, of am- 
ple proportions and a smiling countenance, 

270 The Old Shipmasters 

was our Hebe. She was about 16 and a ward 
of our host. Her father, who was absent, 
was a native of Macao, and her mother 
(who was dead) a Cochin-Chinese. She 
was the most interesting object we had 
seen among these people, but our feelings 
of complacency were not a little deranged 
when, approaching us with her offering of 
tea and betel, we 'nosed her atmosphere.' 
She was dressed in black silk trousers and 
a tunic, or robe, which descended nearly 
to her ankles. Her hair, glossy with cocoa- 
nut oil, was tastefully gathered into a knot 
on top of her head, which was encircled 
with a turban of black crape. Her face and 
neck, guiltless of meretricious ornaments, 
were, however, decorated with variegated 
streaks, the accidental accumulation of ex- 
traneous matter which had come in contact 
with them. Her feet were naked and indu- 
rated, and the forefinger of each hand was 
armed with an opaque claw two inches in 

' ' Two or three other females, among whom 
was our hostess, whose dress and appear- 

Of Salem 271 

ance did not materially differ from what I 
have just described, hovered around us with 
marks of eager curiosity and open mouths, 
which disclosed their straggling fangs, black- 
ened with areka and betel. Mangy and 
disgusting curs were lying about in every 
direction, which, on our approach, set up 
the most dismal yells and fled from us with 
great precipitation, entrenching themselves 
behind various objects from whence they 
regaled us with a continual yelping during 
our visit. Pigs, fowls, and ducks were per- 
ambulating the premises, and had free access 
to every part of the mansion. 

" Observing the elder females in deep dis- 
cussion, and perceiving by their manner that 
we were the object of their conversation, we 
were informed by Pasqual, our host, that 
they were merchants and had assembled at 
his house for the purpose of making arrange- 
ments for the despatch of our business ; and 
that they desired to know what merchandise 
we were in pursuit of, what price we in- 
tended to give for sugar and other articles, 
etc. But we being unwilling to evince any 

2 72 The Old Shipmasters 

anxiety to commence business, and deter- 
mined not to communicate our views to 
them until we had learned of the fate of the 
Marmion, and had had an interview with the 
government, pleaded fatigue as an excuse 
and returned on board. 

"The boats belonging to the larger country 
vessels amused us by their singular form and 
construction, the former being the longitu- 
dinal section of an oblate spheroid, and the 
latter of wicker-work, covered with gul-gul, 
a mixture of oil, pitch, and lime. A single 
species of amusement, and a proof of filthy 
abandonment, was exhibited in the fruit 
boats and others navigated by more than 
one woman. This was no other than hunt- 
ing vermin on each other's heads, in which 
they were very successful, and the game 
appeared to be highly relished. We after- 
wards found that this recreation was not a 
monopoly of the lower orders, but partici- 
pated in by ladies of high rank. Ah uno 
disce omnes. 

" A message was sent to the acting viceroy 
or governor announcing the arrival at Saigon 

Of Salem 273 

of the Franklin, and our intention of making 
him a visit when the Marmion should join 
us, which was answered with congratula- 
tions, assurances of protection, offers of ser- 
vices, and an invitation for the commanders 
and officers of both vessels to an audience 
as soon as it should suit our convenience. 

' 'A pressing invitation from Pasqual induced 
us to take our lodging at his house, where 
we, Mr. Bessel and myself, sent our own 
mattresses, but the noisome stench and 
vermin, combined with our anxiety for the 
arrival of the Marmion, effectually prevented 
our sleeping. The morning tide relieved us 
from the latter object of disquietude, as it 
brought the ship up, and she moored just 
above us. She had experienced the bad 
weather before related, but escaped without 
injury, though in great danger, having drifted 
some distance, with two anchors ahead in 
the great river, and from the violence of the 
wind not being able to furl her sails till the 
gale was ended. 

" Our first object was to establish the mode 
of presentation, as we had been told that the 


2 74 The Old Shipmasters 

most degrading obeisances would be exacted 
from us. The interpreters were despatched 
to the governor, acquainting him with our 
readiness to wait on him and to use the same 
external marks of respect and ceremony 
which we should practice in our own country 
on a similar occasion. An answer was soon 
returned that, although their usages required 
from all ambassadors and others who visited 
the country prostrations and genuflections 
the most profound and abject, yet, in con- 
sideration of our being strangers and not 
disciplined in their forms of etiquette, the 
governor would dispense with this ceremony 
in our case, and only require on our intro- 
duction three bows, the manner of perform- 
ing which was illustrated by the interpreters, 
they remarking, at the same time, that their 
punctilio had never been objected to by the 
Portuguese, Chinese, Siamese, and other 
strangers who had visited their country, con- 
sequently we should view it as a mark of 
great condescension. As no reasonable ob- 
jection could be made to this proposal, we 
readily acceded to it. In the selection of 

Of Salem 275 

presents we were much annoyed by the 
presence of the linguists and the ' she-mer- 
chants ' who had followed us on board. We 
finally were obliged to turn them on deck 
and place a guard at the cabin door to get 
rid of their importunities. 
, " Four globe lamps, four elegant cut-glass 
decanters, a pair of pistols, some wine glass- 
es, tumblers, perfumery, cordials, wine, a 
few bottles of rum, and a handsome orna- 
mented box to contain his betel, areka, and 
chunam, were the articles which we chose 
to present to the acting viceroy. Our party 
consisted of the commanders of both ves- 
sels, with two young men, Messrs. Putnam 
and Bessel, a sailor of the Marmion who 
spoke the Portuguese language well, old 
Joachim the Portuguese pilot, a commissary 
of marine and four mandarins, the whole 
preceded by three of the government lin- 
guists bearing the presents. 

" We shortly arrived before the palace of 
the governor, and were shown into a guard- 
house opposite. We had not been long 
waiting when we were informed that the 

276 The Old Shipmasters 

great personage within was ready to receive 
us. On an elevation was seated, in the 
Asiatic style, the acting governor, a meager, 
wrinkled, cautious-looking old man, whose 
countenance, though relenting into a dubi- 
ous smile, indicated anything but fair-dealing 
and sincerity. Seated on either side of him 
were officials of different degrees of rank. 
Files of soldiers, with their two-handed 
swords, and shields covered with indurated 
buffalo hides, were drawn up in various parts 
of the hall. 

"A motion of the governor's hand indic- 
ated that we should be seated. The presents 
were then passed to him by the linguists. 
He expressed much satisfaction, and wel- 
comed us in a very gracious manner, and 
made many inquiries of our health, the length 
of our voyage, the distance of our country 
from An am, the object of our visit, etc. 
After satisfying him in these particulars he 
promised us every facility in the prosecution 
of our views. Tea, sweetmeats, areka, and 
betel were passed to us, and we vainly 
endeavored to introduce the subjects of 

Of Salem 277 

sagouetes (presents), and port charges for 
anchorage, tonnage, etc., but all recurrence 
to these subjects was artfully waived by 
him, he promising to satisfy us at the next 

" On our way back we passed several of 
the royal elephants, attended by their drivers, 
who were sitting on their necks. Some of 
these beasts were of enormous size, indeed 
much larger than any 1 had ever seen in any 
part of India. They were passing to and 
from the river side, where they resorted to 
drink. On passing us they would slacken 
their pace and view with great apparent in- 
terest objects so unusual as our white faces 
and European garb presented ; nor were we 
totally divested of some degree of apprehen- 
sion at first, from the intense gaze and 
marked attention of these enormous beasts. 
Indeed, the Anamese appeared to fear some 
accident might accrue to us from our novel 
appearance, and advised us to assume the 
costume of the country to prevent any acci- 
dent, which advice we generally thereafter 
complied with, at which they were always 

278 The Old Shipmasters 

highly gratified, viewing it as a compliment. 
Nor was this unattended with other advan- 
tages, for our dresses were those of civil 
mandarins of the second order, which gained 
us greater respect from the populace. The 
dress worn by me is now in the Museum of 
the East India Marine Society of Salem. 

" Our attention was excited by the vocifer- 
ations of an old woman who filled the bazaar 
with her complaints. A soldier was standing 
near her loaded down with fruits, vegetables, 
and poultry, listening to her with great non- 
chalance. She finally ceased, from exhaust- 
ion, when the soldier, laughing heartily, 
left the stall and proceeded to another, 
where he began to select what best suited 
him. We observed that, in the direction he 
was moving, the proprietors of the stalls 
were engaged in secreting the best com- 
modities. On inquiry, we found that the 
depredator was authorized, without fear of 
appeal, to cater for his master, a mandarin 
of high rank, and his exactions were levied 
at his own discretion, and without any re- 
muneration being given. 




Of Salem 279 

" As a proof of the abundance which reigns 
in the bazaars, and the extreme cheapness of 
living in Saigon, 1 shall quote the prices of 
several articles, viz.: Pork, 3 cents per 
pound; beef, 4 cents per pound; fowls, 50 
cents per dozen; ducks, 10 cents each; eggs, 
50 cents per hundred; pigeons, 30 cents per 
dozen ; varieties of shell and scale fish suffi- 
cient for the ship's company, 50 cents; a fine 
deer, $1.25; 100 large yams, 30 cents; rice, 
$ I per picul of 1 50 pounds ; sweet potatoes, 45 
cents per picul; oranges, from 30 cents to $1 
per hundred; cocoanuts, |i per hundred; lem- 
ons, 50 cents per hundred. As 1 am now on 
the subject of fruit, I will say that it excelled 
what we had seen in other parts of the East 
Indies. The jack-fruit grows from the trunk 
of a pretty large tree, to which it is attached 
by a slender stem, apparently disproportion- 
ate to the weight of the fruit, which weighs 
frequently 10 or 15 pounds. It is, when 
ripe, of a yellowish green. It is highly 
esteemed by the natives in its raw state, 
and is an ingredient in some of their made 

28o The Old Shipmasters 

" The mango is of a delicious and refresh- 
ing flavor, and when ripe is of a rich yellow 
color. The papaw or paw-paw, is in shape 
like a European pear with yellow pulp, and 
is highly esteemed. The pomegranate, cele- 
brated in Scripture, must, in my opinion, 
have greatly degenerated. It contains a 
large number of seeds, each surrounded by 
a sub-acid fluid. From its astringent quali- 
ties it is considered a specific in dysentery 
by the East Indians. The custard apple is a 
most delicious fruit. The pulp is of the con- 
sistence and nearly the color of a custard. 
When ripe it bursts with a slight pressure 
of the hand, and is eaten with a spoon. 
The guava, the anana, or pineapple, the 
several species of the plantain, the banana, 
the alligator pear, lemons, limes, oranges, 
tamarinds, cocoanuts, watermelons, and 
many other fruits were in great abundance. 

" During our walk we were constantly 
annoyedby hundreds of yelping curs, whose 
din was intolerable. In the bazaars we were 
beset with beggars, many of whom were 
the most miserable, disgusting objects, 

Of Salem 281 

some of whom were disfigured with lep- 
rosy, and others with their toes, feet, and 
even legs eaten off by vermin or disease. 
Nor were these the only subjects of annoy- 
ance, for notwithstanding the efforts and 
the expostulations of the officers who ac- 
companied us, and our frequently chastising 
them with our canes, the populace would 
crowd around us, almost suffocating us 
with the fetor of their bodies, and feel every 
article of our dress with their dirty paws, 
chattering like so many baboons. They 
even proceeded to take off our hats and 
thrust their hands into our bosoms, so that 
we were glad to escape to our boats and re- 
turn on board, looking like chimney-sweeps 
from the rough handling we had received. 

"The city of Saigon contains 180,000 in- 
habitants, of which about 10,000 are Chi- 
nese, according to authentic and official 
statements which 1 received from Father 
Joseph— of whom I shall have occasion to 
speak hereafter — and from the military gov- 
ernor, who returned from a visit to the royal 
city of Hue a short time subsequent to our 

282 The Old Shipmasters 

arrival. Equi-distant from the extremities 
of the city is a large range of buildings 
of handsome construction. These are the 
magazines of rice, which is a regular mon- 
opoly, and the exportation of it is prohibited 
on pain of decapitation. Each vessel de- 
parting from the country is allowed a cer- 
tain quantity for provisions in proportion to 
the number of her crew. A large Siamese 
junk was lying in the creek, on the Banga 
side of the river, the captain and officers of 
which had been executed a short time pre- 
vious to our arrival, and the crew were then 
in prison, for a violation of this edict. . . . 
The ship timber and planks here excelled 
anything 1 had ever seen. 1 measured one 
plank whose dimensions were loo feet long, 
more than four inches thick, and perfectly 
squared to the top. It was sawed out of the 
trunk of a teak tree. The Anamese are cer- 
tainly most skillful naval architects, and 
finish their work with great neatness. I 
was so much pleased with this portion of 
their political economy that I made frequent 
visits to the naval arsenal. 

Of Salem 283 

" On our return on board, we found some 
officers who had been despatched by the 
governor to acquaint us that the following 
day was proposed for the ceremony of meas- 
uring the ships, for a ceremony, we were 
told, it invariably had been, and could not 
be dispensed with, and it was expected a 
feast would be prepared for the throng of 
officers who would visit us on this occasion. 
Preparations were accordingly made to re- 
ceive them under the superintendence of 
Pasqual's wife, who, on this occasion, pro- 
duced an abundance of dishes of various 
kinds, principally of oriental origin, such as 
pilaw, curry, mullagatawny, kedgeree, etc., 
and great varieties of confectionery and fruits. 
Our fears were not a little excited that these 
hot and pungent dishes would require no 
small quantities of diluents to assist their 
powers of deglutition. 

" To eke out our own stock, we purchased 
some of the whiskey of the country, made 
of rice, to administer to them, mixed with 
European liquors, and this, we found on trial, 
took so well that on subsequent occasions 

284 The Old Shipmasters of Salem 

we constantly practised it, but were obliged 
to be cautious not to administer it till they 
began to be pretty tipsy, for fear of de- 
tection. In fact, toward the catastrophe, 
rice whiskey answered every purpose, 

" In pursuance of arrangements, at about 
9 o'clock on the morning of Sunday, the 
loth of October, our boats were sent to 
escort the gang of spongers on board. The 
commissary, whom we have before men- 
tioned, and to whom we became subse- 
quently attached, in consequence of his 
being less of a rogue than the generality 
of these people, was the first to present 
himself. He was followed by the collector 
of customs, a covetous-looking old hunks 
with a Jew phiz, and his nose and chin in 
close intimacy, whose subsequent conduct 
did not belie our skill in physiognomy. In 
his suite were many others of various ranks, 
who, with their long trains of servants, filled 
the decks with their bodies and the air with 
the perfumes from them. " 


Conspiracy to Defraud the Captain — Villainy and Turpitude of Offi- 
cials — Everybody Clamorous for Presents, from the King down 
— Women Merchants — Remarkable Story about a Tigress and a 
Puppy — Selling Wives to Creditors. 

'T'HE captains of the Franklin and Mar- 
mion were completely at the mercy 
of the Viceroy's officials in regard to the 
measurement of the ships, and were doomed 
to pay whatever tonnage duties the rogues 
saw fit to impose. It was a barefaced act, 
from which there was no redress: hence, 
the captains had to submit to the fate which 
awaited them with what degree of com- 
placency they could command. Captain 
White continues his Journal as follows : 

" Immediately after the first introduction, 
which was conducted with some ceremony 
though with little civility, demands were 
made for liquors, and as we were anxious 

to get rid of them as speedily as possible, 


286 The Old Shipmasters 

we hastened to gratify them, and then 
urged them to proceed to business. It was 
not, however, till after a long consultation, 
in which they were frequently very loud 
and vociferous, that they commenced their 
operations, the manner of which was as 
follows : A line perpendicular to each end 
of the keel is marked on deck, one-third of 
the distance from the mark nearest the stern 
to that forward is set off for the place of 
admeasurement, where a straight pole is 
placed horizontally across the ship, over the 
gunwale, from which plummets are sus- 
pended in order to find a line perpendicular 
to the wales in that part, which is marked 
on the pole. 

" On this measurement the tonnage duty 
is payable by the touick, or covid, a measure 
of sixteen and six-tenths inches, which is 
divided into decimal fractions, which are 
called by the natives tat, and by the lin- 
guists puntas, from the Portuguese, thus : 
10 tat make a touick, or covid. The exaction 
of this measurement is made at the rate of 
100 quans, or 8o Spanish dollars, per covid. 

Of Salem 287 

On the amount so found is an imposition 
of 3 per cent, to pay the officers for the 
trouble and expense of measuring. Another 
exaction of i per cent, is made in favor of 
the soldiers for the trouble and expense of 
looking on ; and to crown the climax of ex- 
tortions the government allov^s but 18 
mace, called the Anamese tien, each equal 
to five cents, for a Spanish dollar, when 
paid them for anchorage, etc.; whereas in 
the bazaars, and in all other commercial 
operations, the dollar is always worth two 
quans of ten mace each. The mace is 
divided into 60 parts called dong by the 
natives, and by the Portuguese sepeks. 
Sixty dong, or sepeks, make a tien or mace, 
and 10 tien make a quan. 

"After having settled the measurement, 
which was not done without some quarrel- 
ing between the commissary and the col- 
lector, on whom the potations seemed to 
have contrary effects, the former strongly 
inclining to favor us, and the latter to cheat 
us by extending the measure, they pro- 
ceeded to gorge themselves with what had 

288 The Old Shipmasters 

been prepared for them. It would afford 
but little, if any, amusement to recapitu- 
late the scene of debauchery which en- 
sued ; suifice it to say that about 1 2 o'clock 
they proceeded on board the Marmion 
where the same shameless conduct was 
repeated; the quarrel about measurement, 
however, being carried on with more as- 
perity, the old collector's rapacity increas- 
ing in a ratio with his inebriety. At about 
4 o'clock, much to our satisfaction, they de- 
parted and left us in possession of quiet, 
but by no means clean, ships. Among 
many other impurities, not the least dis- 
gusting was the saliva impregnated with 
their masticatory, which had been liberally 
ejected in every part, as chance might di- 
rect, leaving crimson spots which required 
no little labor to efface. 

" On the following day we paid another 
visit to the governor for the purpose of 
regulating the amount of sagouetes, etc. 
He informed us that there was a fixed and 
immutable law of the kingdom regulating 
these matters, which he dare not pretend to 

o o 

Si ~f 

"§ .S 


Of Salem 2 

abrogate or evade, and even if he wished 
do it, there were so many other officers w 
were to participate with him, that that ; 
tempt must necessarily prove futile. Befc 
departing, we were informed by the lingu 
that the governor was about despatching 
courier to the king with our official pape 
and desired to know if we wished to sei 
him a present. We answered him in t 
affirmative, and knowing there was a Fren 
naval officer in the service of that monarc 
we requested permission to write to hii 
which he readily granted. We according 
prepared a letter in French, to M, Vannii 
the king's admiral at Hue, requesting 1 
good offices in our behalf, and that he wou 
endeavor to procure a reduction of the s 
gouetes, and he was requested to prese 
to his majesty an elegant sabre, which a 
companied the letter. 

"Scarcely had this party taken leave b 
fore we were visited on board the vessel 1 
a bevy of women, who we found we 
merchants, or rather merchandise brokei 
They, after asking for and receiving a gla 

290 The Old Shipmasters 

of brandy each, began to open business, 
offering sugar, silk, cotton, and other articles 
for sale, but produced no samples. We 
were astonished to find that the article of 
sugar, which they knew was the primary 
one with us, or, at least, what had been the 
most inquired for, had risen from 80 to 100 
per cent, since our arrival, but that other 
articles had not advanced in the same ratio. 
Finding this to be the case, we were more 
particular in our inquiries for silk, cotton, 
gambooge, and other articles, the reputed 
productions of the country, of which we 
ordered them to bring samples, after being 
told their respective prices. They came on 
board the following day. Our astonish- 
ment may, however, be conceived when 
they informed us that the commodities of 
which we had inquired the previous day 
had advanced about 50 per cent, in price. 

"It would be tedious and painful to re- 
capitulate the constant villainy and turpi- 
tude which we experienced from these 
people during our residence in this country. 
Their total want of faith, constant eagerness 

Of Salem 2 

to deceive and overreach us, and their p^ 
tinacity in trying to gain by shuffling a 
manoeuvring, what might have been bet 
and easier gained by openness and fair-de 
ing ; the tedious forms and ceremonies 
transacting all kinds of business ; the i 
certainty of the eventful ratification of a 
bargain, unless there is a written contra 
which is never made till every art has be 
used and every engine of extortion put 
motion and exhausted to gain more ; 
these vexations, combined with the rai 
cious, faithless, despotic, and anti-comm^ 
cial character of the government, will, 
long as these causes exist, render Cocl 
China the least desirable country for m- 
cantile adventurers. These causes ha 
made Japan relinquish the trade ; they ha 
driven the Portuguese of Macao from t 
country and turned their commerce ir 
other channels, and are yearly and rapic 
lessening their intercourse with China a 
Siam. The philanthropist, the man of e 
terprise, and the civilized world genera 
can see in the present miserable state oft 

292 The Old Shipmasters 

naturally fine country no other than a 
source of deep regret and commiseration. 

"The climate of Cochin China is as fine 
as that of any other country within the tor- 
rid zone ; the periodical winds passing over 
and refreshing every part of it. The win- 
ters are unusually cool for the latitude in 
which it is situated, and the keen breezes 
from the mountains are favorable to health 
and vigor. The mountains produce gold, 
silver, copper, iron, and other metals. The 
forests, besides the various kinds of odor- 
iferous woods, such as eagle, the rose, the 
sappan, and others, afford ironwood, sev- 
eral species of the varnish tree, the dammer 
or pitch tree, the gambooge, the bamboo, 
and the rattan, besides a great variety of 
woods useful in dyeing, in construction, 
and in the mechanic arts. The country 
also produces cinnamon, honey, wax, peltry 
of various kinds, areka, betel, tobacco, cot- 
ton, raw silk, sugar, musk, cassia, pepper, 
indigo, sago, ivory, gold dust, rhinoceros' 
horns, and rice of six different kinds. 

"Rice, being an article of such universal 

Of Salem 2( 

consumption, receives more care in its cu 
tivation than any other article in the coui 
try. White flour is made of rice, and 
used in making cakes and various kinds ( 
confectionery. Some of the varieties of ri( 
produced tv/o crops in a year ; others fv 
crops in two years. I have heard it assert( 
that the coffee-tree is indigenous in Coch 
China. This is a great mistake. Some ( 
the missionaries have a few trees in the 
gardens, procured from Java. While 
Saigon, I received a present of about fo 
pounds in the pod, from a missionary, ar 
this he told me was about one-fiftieth pa 
of what was produced in the province th 

"The Anamese speak with great ener^ 
of the irresistible strength and amazii 
velocity of the rhinoceros. They say ] 
moves so rapidly that it is difficult for tl 
eye to keep pace with his movements ; th 
no object in his way is any impediment 
his rapid career ; that he beats down rocl< 
walls, and large trees with great ease, ai 
that his track can be easily traced by tl 

294 The Old Shipmasters 

ruins in his rear. Speaking of this animal 
one day to the viceroy, he observed : ' You 
now see him here before you in Saigon ' ; 
and, snapping his fingers, ' now he is in 
Canjeo.' However hyperbolical these ac- 
counts appear to be,, we may yet infer from 
them that the animal is of astonishing 

"The common tiger of Cochin China is 
not greatly dreaded, but the royal tiger is a 
most terrific animal. The governor pre- 
sented one of the latter to the commander 
of each ship. They were confined in very 
strong cages of ironwood. That which I 
had was a beautiful female, about two years 
old, nearly three feet high and five feet 
long. (Her skin is now in the Museum of 
the East India Marine Society at Salem.) In 
consequence of losing, by bad weather, the 
stock of puppies and kids provided for her 
on the homeward passage, we were obliged 
to shoot her. A remarkable anecdote rela- 
tive to this animal 1 cannot forbear relating. 
In Saigon, where dogs are 'dog cheap,' we 
used to give the tiger one every day. 

Of Salem 2 

They were thrown alive into her ca^ 
where, after playing with her victim 1 
a while, as a cat does with a mouse, Y 
eyes would begin to glisten and her tail 
vibrate, which were the immediate preci 
sors of death to the devoted little prison^ 
which was invariably seized by the back 
the neck, the incisors of the sanguinary be^ 
perforating the jugular arteries, while s 
would traverse the cage, which she lash 
with her tail, and suck the blood of herpr 
which hung suspended from her mou1 
One day a puppy, not at all remarkable 
distinguishable in appearance from the 'coi 
mon herd,' was thrown into the cage. 1 
set up a dismal yell and attacked the tigrc 
with great fury, snapping at her nose a 
drawing blood. The tigress appeared to 
amused at the puny rage of the puppy, a 
with as good-humored an expression 
countenance as so ferocious an animal coi 
be supposed to assume, she affected to tn 
it all as play. Sometimes she would spre 
herself at full length on her side, at othe 
crouching, in the manner of the fabl 

296 The Old Shipmasters 

Sphinx, she would ward off with her paw 
the incensed little animal till he was finally 
exhausted. She then proceeded to caress 
him into confidence, in which she finally 
succeeded, and in a short time they lay 
down together and slept. 

" From this time they were inseparable, 
the tigress appearing to feel for the puppy 
all the solicitude of a mother, and the puppy 
in return treating her with the greatest affec- 
tion. A small aperture was left open in the 
cage by which he had free ingress and 
egress. Experiments were subsequently 
made by presenting a strange dog at the 
bars of the cage, when the tigress would 
manifest great eagerness to get at it. Her 
adopted child was then thrown in, on 
which she would eagerly pounce, but im- 
mediately discovering the cheat, she would 
caress it with great tenderness. The na- 
tives made several unsuccessful attempts to 
steal the dog from us. 

"The coin of the country is perforated 
with a square hole in the center, and strung 
upon a ligature made generally of the fibers 

Of Salem 2 

of the pineapple leaf. The string is divid 
in the middle by a knot, and five mace, or 3 
sepecks, strung on each side, and the en 
tied together. Specimens of each kind a 
deposited in the Salem East India Mari 
IVluseum. A silver ingot, current in t 
country when I left it, at three quans ai 
five mace, I have also deposited in t 

" Our time was spent till the 14th in fru 
less negotiations for cargoes, the produce 
the country rising in price daily. We final 
determined to take a house at old Saigon, 
we were informed that the supercargoes 
the Macao ships and of the Chinese jun 
made this their place of residence, it bei 
the principal mart of commerce in the di^ 
sion. We accordingly hired a house of t 
widow of a Portuguese of Macao, hers 
a Cochin-Chinese, at the rate of $150 1 
three months. The house was situated 
the bank of a small stream which wash 
the southern borders of old Saigon. On t 
opposite bank of the stream was an esti 
belonging to the acting governor, where 

298 The Old Shipmasters 

occasionally resided ; he was, in fact, there 
when we removed, and the second day after 
taking possession of our new habitation we 
visited him by invitation. We met with the 
usual reception — tea, sweetmeats, areka, 
etc., were presented us, and, while we were 
sipping our tea, an explosion like that of a 
pistol took place near us, which produced 
an involuntary start in us, highly amusing 
his excellency. He had lately received from 
Hue some intonating balls, made of a fulmi- 
nating powder which had been imported in 
the French ships, and took this occasion, 
unobserved by us, to throw one upon the 
pavement behind us, where it exploded. 

" We had a long conversation on the sub- 
ject of merchandise, more especially sugar. 
He inveighed against the holders of that 
article with great acrimony, and advised us 
not to be in a hurry or show any impatience, 
as they, he observed, must finally come to 
our terms ; for, if we departed without pur- 
chasing, the commodity would be left on 
their hands, and, as they had bought it of 
the manufacturers at an advanced price— so 

-i^^ m 






00 ii 






*>/^/'',l' Hftc^ 

Of Salem 2 

great was the competition to speculate upi 
and to forestall us — for which they had 1 
means of payment but the proceeds of tl 
very article, they, in case of failure, mi 
sell their wives and children to meet th( 
creditors. On the following day we disco 
ered that the old rogue was, sub rosa, ti 
principal sugar holder in the district. Thi 
well knew that, in regard to merchandis 
we were completely in their power, for v 
had, by coming up the river, rendered ol 
selves liable to pay measurement dues, s 
gouetes, etc., and that we would not retu 
without purchasing parts of cargoes, at lea: 
although at a very dear rate, and it appear 
that they were practicing that laudable s> 
tern of patience and perseverance which 1 
excellency had so kindly recommended 
to adopt, and which we, indeed, were oblig 
to conform to as a dernier ressort, and 
amuse ourselves in the best way we coi 
in our unpleasant situation. 

" Our house adjoined that of our landlad 
a Christian, who had resided some time 
Macao, and spoke the Portuguese languag 

300 The Old Shipmasters 

On the day after we took possession, she 
gave us an invitation to her house to meet 
a friend of hers. On our entrance, she v/el- 
comed us with great cordiality, and intro- 
duced to us a person whom, from his dress, 
color, and general appearance, we supposed 
to be a native. This was Padre Antonio, 
one of the Italian missionaries. He ap- 
peared to be highly delighted to see white 
faces, a sight which he stated to be very 
rare to him. Besides his own language, and 
Latin of course, he was acquainted with 
none but the Anamese, in which he was 
fluent. After a short time he accompanied 
us to our house, when we found that his 
garb was not the only circumstance of his 
similitude to the natives, for he found means, 
in about half an hour, to dispose of the best 
part of a bottle of cordial, to supply, proba- 
bly, the expense of saliva produced by 
smoking half a dozen charges of tobacco in 
a china pipe which was carried by an at- 
tendant. In his person and habits, also, he 
was scarcely more cleanly than his converts, 
with many of whom of the softer sex (in- 

Of Salem 3' 

eluding our landlady) his attentions we 
said to be not confined to spiritualities, 
short, our conclusion was that His Holine 
the Pope, and the most holy 'Societas ( 
Propaganda Fide,' had in this instan 
chosen an unworthy minister to forwa 
their views. 

"We were greatly annoyed in our hat 
tation by the pertinacious curiosity of tl 
natives, for we had no other means of avoi 
ing their obtrusive gaze than by causing tl 
paling to be matted on the inside. Thi 
however, was but a temporary protectio 
for on the following morning we found o 
fence perforated in every part, like loo 
holes in a fort, and through each of them 
shining eye levelled at us pointblank. \A 
immediately began to repair the breaches 
our works, but, like Penelope's web, tl 
next morning we found them in the san 
state in which they were on the precedii 
one. We were finally obliged to desist, ai 
submit with the best grace we could to t\ 
provoking intrusion. 

"Almost despairing of securing a cargo. 

302 The Old Shipmasters of Salem 

made a reconnoitering trip to every store and 
warehouse in the city, the result of which 
was the finding of only 800 piculs of sugar 
in Saigon, 10 tons of raw silk, which was 
held at a higher price than it was worth in 
Europe, 30 to 50 tons of red dyewood, also 
enormously dear, and some dirty cotton in 
small parcels. 

" We were told by the linguists that the 
sugar then at Saigon was but a small pro- 
portion of what was in the division, and 
that if we would offer a liberal price the 
merchants would bring it in ; but we were 
now too well acquainted with the duplicity 
and roguery of the natives to listen for a 
moment to these idle tales." 


Trying to Conciliate the Governor — Sfiameless Rogues — Extortion 
Ofificials in Paying for IWeasurement of Vessels. — Paying Char] 
at Custom-House in Copper Coin — Assailed by a Shower 
Stones — Trying to See who could Hold out the Longer. 

T^HE Journal further narrates the difficultii 
-^ which Captain White still encounten 
in his effort to secure a cargo : 

"We endeavored to further our own viev 
by marked attention to the acting governc 
trusting that if we could conciliate hir 
and engage him in our cause, his examp 
and influence would effect a removal of tl 
non-intercourse existing between us and tl 
merchants. We accordingly invited him 
our house to pay us a friendly visit, whi« 
he accepted, and appointed the next Sund; 
at 10 o'clock to call on us. 

" According to promise, he made his a 

pearance with great pomp and ceremon 


304 The Old Shipmasters 

guarded by a detachment of soldiers with 
swords, pikes, and shields. Our landlady 
had undertaken the management of the 
table and old Polonio acted as master of 
ceremonies. After the first reception was 
over, the governor asked us several ques- 
tions about our country, how we liked Co- 
chin China, etc., which we satisfactorily 
answered. We, however, did not fail to 
complain of the sugar merchants, on whom 
we bestowed several epithets, by no means 
of a flattering nature, a very considerable 
part of which he might with good propriety 
apply to himself without fear of encroaching 
on the property of others. He probably felt 
his ' withers wrung' ; but how were we to 
know that the great ' Oung-quan-tung- 
kion,' the second officer in rank in the di- 
vision of Donnai, and who had once the 
honor to represent his august sovereign at 
the court of Pekin, was a petty dealer in 
sugar and other merchandise, and was 
leagued with other dealers to gain by 
fraud and extortion an undue advantage over 
strangers, who were in their power ? His 

Of Salem 3 

excellency was pleased to join in the inve 
tives against the sugar merchants, and 
reiterate his advice of a former day — ' 
practice patience.' A collation was th 
served : we presented him some wine, 
which he took part of a glass and passed t 
bottle to his attendants, who soon de 
patched it, and a bottle of cordial met t 
same fate. He asked us if we had any c 
jects of curiosity to show him, to which \ 
answered in the negative, being aware 
his motive. One of the linguists, howevi 
who, by the way, was a shameless rogi 
told him that he had seen in my apartme 
a double-barreled fowling-piece, which 
was finally obliged to produce. After a 
miring the workmanship, he condescend 
to borrow it for a shooting excursion t 
next day. 1 was obliged to comply wi 
his desire with the best grace I could ; 
sume, and it was fortunate that on this oc( 
sion I took my final leave of it, as no ott 
opportunity occurred, for I never saw 
again, nor could all the efforts 1 subsequen 
made during my stay procure me even 

3o6 The Old Shipmasters 

glimpse of it, his excellency affecting to be- 
lieve it a present. After presenting him 
a few yards of scarlet broadcloth, which he 
very much admired, he took his leave, prom- 
ising us every assistance in his power. 

" On the following day, we waited on the 
governor in order to make arrangements for 
the payment of our measurement dues, as 
he had hinted at that subject on the pre- 
ceding day. No representation we could 
make would induce him to receive the 
Spanish dollars at par, he affirming that they 
were worth but i8 mace in copper sepecks. 
We then offered to pay him in copper se- 
pecks, which we knew we could purchase 
in the bazaar at the rate of 19 mace to 
the dollar, to which, after some demur, he 

"On our return we busied ourselves in 
the purchase and examination of copper se- 
pecks — a harassing and perplexing employ- 
ment, — and the united efforts of four of us 
could enable us to count, assort, and new- 
string only the value of 1500 quans in more 
than a week. It must be confessed, how- 

Of Salem 

ever, that we were very inexpert in handl 
the money, but we were constrained to 
very particular to prevent its being again i 
strung and recounted in the custom-hou 
a procedure that would, as Pasqual i 
Joachim affirmed, subject us to great 1 
by reason of theft and destruction of 
coin by careless handling. 

"A day being appointed for the paym 
of what we had collected, the Marmk 
launch was freighted with it and despatcl 
for the custom-house ; and it was, as n 
be supposed, a matter of curiosity to 
a stout longboat of a ship deeply lac 
with coin, amounting in value to only 
Spanish dollars, and weighing nearly t 
and a half tons. The sun had nearly 
before all the custom-house officials 
sembled, and there appeared no dispositi 
on their part to despatch the busin 
before them. There were much talk 
and mystery among them, and it v 
evident they were hatching some sche 
to cajole us. We, finally, after repea 
applications, were permitted to land ■ 

3o8 The Old Shipmasters 

money and bring it to the custom-house, 
by which time it was nearly dark. We 
urged them to take an account of it and give 
us a receipt for the amount, at which they 
affected to laugh, and told us that it was too 
late to do any business that night, but that 
in the morning they would again assemble 
and proceed to count and examine it. 

" We were thunder-struck at this declara- 
tion, for it had been expressly stipulated 
that the money should not be again sepa- 
rated after we had delivered it, and an officer 
had attended on the part of the government 
while we were selecting and arranging it at 
the house, to supersede the necessity of such 
a procedure. By this time the tide in the 
creek had ebbed so far as to render it im- 
possible to get out with the boat laden ; 
otherwise, we should have taken our freight 
on board again and proceeded to the ships 
with it. In this perplexity the wretches 
left us, evidently enjoying our embarrass- 
ment. We had now no alternative but to 
let the money remain in the custom-house, 
which was entirely open in front, and send 

Of Salem 2 

on board for an armed guard from each sh 
When we had posted the guard and giv 
them proper directions, we left them. Th 
met with no disturbance during the nig) 
but what proceeded from an enormous S( 
pent, at least 15 feet long, as they state 
which came out of the river, entered t 
court in front of the building, and came ir 
the custom-house, and glided between t 
stacks of money with glaring eyes, afi 
which they lost sight of it. From the c 
scription of the sailors, 1 concluded it was 
boa constrictor, and probably had its d 
in some part of the building, where it w 
retiring to rest after its nocturnal excursi 
in search of food. 

" It was not till 1 1 o'clock on the followi 
day that the officers were assembled 
count the money. After counting the fii 
hundred quans, which consumed more th 
an hour, during which they practiced eve 
art to vex and annoy us, rejecting every s 
peck which had the least flaw in it or th 
was not of standard size, to decide whi 
they were furnished with the criteria of coi 

3IO The Old Shipmasters 

recently from the mint. When they had 
counted the loo quans, what was our 
astonishment to find that there was an 
apparent loss of lo per cent. ! As the rejected 
coin did not appear to amount to half that 
sum, which on examination we found to be 
the case, our indignation was highly excited, 
and we insisted on searching the soldiers 
who were counting, and on them we found 
secreted the balance of the loss. They were 
not in the least disconcerted at the discovery, 
but laughed in our faces in the most provok- 
ing manner. 

"We immediately made a report of this 
roguery to the head mandarin. He observed 
that if they were guilty, and we wished it, 
he would punish them. We insisted it 
should be done. They accordingly re- 
ceived a few slight strokes with a rattan. 
It was evidently all a farce, as they were 
laughing and chuckling during the infliction, 
if it deserves the name. Old Polonio and 
Joachim, who were present, now beckoned 
us aside, and told us that these vexations 
were contrived to force us to relinquish the 

Of Salem 3 

plan of paying our measurement dues in tl 
coin of the country, and to oblige us to p; 
them in Spanish dollars, at 18 mace eac 
and represented to us the great difficulti 
and loss we should experience in a pers 
verance in our intention. On hearing tl 
we determined to complain to the governc 
"We immediately waited on his exc( 
lency, and recapitulated our grievances, r 
minding him of his promise of assistan 
and protection. From his manner we pt 
ceived that he was aware of the impositio 
that had been practiced, and, moreover, v 
had but little doubt that they were ins 
gated by him. He declined to interfere, ai 
thought it best to allow the officers to cou 
the money in their own way, or to make 
compromise by giving them a sum of mon( 
on condition they would count it, or pern 
it to pass for so many Spanish dollars, 
18 quans the dollar, and, to prevent furth 
trouble, to pay the residue of the gover 
ment dues in Spanish dollars. We object 
to part of this plan, but suggested that \ 
would withdraw all the money we h; 

312 The Old Shipmasters 

deposited in the custom-house and apply it 
to other purposes, and pay the whole amount 
in Spanish dollars. To this he assented, 
provided we would pay a duty equivalent 
to the premium of the dollars to satisfy the 
officers for the trouble they had already been 
to, and might yet be at. 

"After several journeys between the cus- 
tom-house and the governor's house, and 
night again approaching, we were under the 
necessity of succumbing to these harpies, 
and we delivered them the money and took 
their receipt for I750. It would be tedious, 
in short impossible, to relate the tissue of 
fraud and knavery which the Cochin-Chi- 
nese daily and hourly endeavored to practice 
upon us. 

"After we returned to our house in the 
evening, and while sitting in the veranda, 
we were assailed by a shower of stones 
which appeared to be thrown from the other 
side of the stream. The noise of the de- 
scending missiles brought our landlady to 
her gate, and, while we were talking with 
her on the subject, we were assailed by 

Of Salem : 

another shower of stones from invisi 
hands, one of which, striking Maria on 1 
ankle, caused a severe contusion, and ; 
other inflicted a serious wound on the a 
of one of the young gentlemen. We i 
mediately armed ourselves and proceeded 
the spot whence the stones appeared to 
thrown, and searched every place whi 
we thought any person could be conceal 
but without success. After our return, a 
while we were talking upon the subject, ' 
were saluted with another discharge, up 
which we made a second sally, but with 
better success than before. We were th 
fain to retire inside the house and close 1 
shutters, after which a few random stor 
were thrown, and we were then left to 1 
quiet possession of our lodgings. This i 
noyance was repeated almost every eveni 
afterwards, and sometimes in mid-day, I 
no search, inquiry, or offer of reward for 1 
detection of the offenders could elicit a 
information, neither could we ever div: 
the cause of it. It was evident, howev 
that it came from the direction of 1 

SH The Old Shipmasters 

governor's house, to whom we made com- 
plaint. He answered that he was frequently 
molested in the same manner, and that if 
we could secure the offenders and bring them 
to him, they should be punished, and this 
was all the satisfaction we could obtain. 

" As we reaped no advantages by living on 
shore, and the sugar merchants were still 
inflexible, we determined to try the effect 
of a stratagem. We accordingly paid the 
balance of our measurement fees, filled our 
water casks, bent some of our sails, and 
made other preparations for sea. We re- 
moved part of our effects on board from the 
house, and on the 31st of October the two 
commanders, to add weight to the ' note of 
preparation,' removed on board. From the 
secrecy we had maintained in regard to our 
real intentions, and by the show we made 
in our ostensible determination, we flattered 
ourselves that we should bring the mer- 
chants to reasonable terms, as they would 
not, we presumed, permit us to depart with- 
out purchasing their commodities. A whole 
week, however, elapsed after this without 

Of Salem 3 

producing the desired effect. The sar 
dogged indifference was apparent in the 
which had annoyed us so much heretofo 
during which time preparations were maki 
for our feigned departure. We finally ask 
the linguists if the merchants would r 
come to some accommodation, rather th 
see us depart with no cargoes, when, 
our astonishment and mortification, th 
answered, with the greatest coolness, tl 
the Cochin-Chinese were too well versed 
deception to be blinded by the shallow ar 
fices we had adopted, but that they w( 
willing to try which could hold out t 

" We had now little hope but in the vie 
roy, who was daily expected, and repi 
sented as a very different man from t 
present incumbent, being very attentive 
Europeans, coveting their company, and 
ways ready to assist and protect the 
having been formerly mandarin of strangi 
at Hue. We were somewhat encourag 
on hearing that the season for the new cr 
of sugar was approaching, when, as it w 

3i6 The Old Shipmasters 

represented, it would be plentiful and cheap, 
and we labored with all our might to believe 
as much of this as possible, as a sedative to 
our excited feelings. 

"While upon an excursion one day, in 
pursuit of some planks to repair one of our 
boats, we observed before an old woman's 
stall what we supposed to be boiled turtle, 
and exposed for sale in square pieces ; but 
our linguist told us it was cayman, or alli- 
gator, and bid us follow him, which we did, 
to an enclosure back of the building, where 
there were about 20 of these hideous ani- 
mals, from two to 12 feet in length, walking 
about with their jaws bound together, and 
the stench from them was intolerable. The 
method of taking them, we were told, was 
by placing a number of small lines in their 
haunts, with which they became entangled, 
and fell an easy prey to the hunters. 

" In a species of palm-tree, at the top is a 
succulent bud, in the heart of which is an 
unctuous white maggot, as large as one's 
thumb, which is esteemed a great delicacy, 
and is a monopoly of the royal family and 

Of Salem 3 

mandarins of first distinction. A present ( 
about a dozen of these buds, containing tl 
worms, was sent us by the viceroy as 
mark of great consideration. It is hard 
necessary to say we declined eating th 
delicacy, but gave them to Pasqual's wil 
who was highly delighted with the tid-bi 
that our over-fastidious taste had rejected. 

"A circumstance which contributed 
amuse and beguile us of many a tedio 
hour, and which was of great advantage 
us in our researches after information co 
cerning the country, occurred at this tim 
It was our introduction to Padre (Fathe 
Joseph, the elder Italian missionary, a r 
markable man of fifty, of mild and unassur 
ing manners, of dignified yet conciliatii 
deportment, of great zeal and correctness 
the discharge of his pastoral duties, of a mc 
blameless and self-denying life, evincing th 
he was honest in the sacred cause, and 
man of erudition and great observation. 1 
spoke the French language with considerat 
fluency, and to him I am indebted for mu 
valuable information. 

3i8 The Old Shipmasters 

" On the 6th of December, the arrival of 
the viceroy was announced by the discharge 
of a few guns, and by the display of the 
Anamese flag at the citadel. . . . We 
embraced the earliest opportunity of paying 
our compliments to the viceroy. The rigid 
discipline and exact subordination observed 
in his presence were exemplified in the pro- 
found silence and abject prostrations of the 
courtiers. The mode of salutation is thus 
practiced : The visitor enters the hall from 
the side, at the right of the throne, and 
passes the ends of the platforms farthest 
from it, till he arrives at the open area in 
the front. He then faces the object of his 
homage, clasps his hands together, while 
his arms hang suspended before him ; he 
then raises his hands, still clasped, to his 
forehead, and lets them fall before him. He 
then unclasps his hands, falls in the attitude 
of genuflection, with his hands placed on 
the earth and touching it with his forehead. 
He then rises and repeats the same cere- 
mony two, five, or eight times, the number 
being three, six, or nine, according to the 

Of Salem 3 

rank between the respective persons payii 
and receiving homage. 

" His excellency was highly gratified wi 
our presents. The kaleidoscope was pa 
ticularly admired. 1 directed the linguist 
inform the viceroy that this was a new ii 
vention, and had excited much admiratic 
in Europe, and then proceeded to explain i 
uses and mode of application. No soone 
however, had he looked through it than 1 
took it from his eyes and addressed a fe 
words to the linguist, who repeated fro 
his excellency that the instrument might 1 
new in Europe, but was by no means ra 
with them. He then directed a few won 
to an officer in attendance, who returned in 
few minutes with several kaleidoscopes co 
ered with embossed paper. They were, it 
true, of inferior workmanship, but in princip 
did not differ in the least degree from that 
Dr. Brewster. We were, however, great 
surprised that an invention of such recent o: 
gin in Europe should be found in this seclud( 
part of the world, especially as those we sa 
were evidently of Chinese manufacture." 


Fight with Snakes in the Donnai River — The Viceroy's Quaint Ban- 
quet Complimentary to the American Officers — The Viceroy Helps 
his Guests by Cramming Food down their Throats — The White 
Men a Curiosity to the Ladies of Saigon — Difficulty in Obtaining 
Rice — Preparations to Repel Pirates — Sailing of the Franklin — 
Arrival at Salem. 

TJOW Captain White, after all his trials 
and troubles with the merchants and 
mandarins of Saigon, finally secured a cargo 
will now be told, together with other inci- 
dents connected with his long and venture- 
some voyage. The captain was possessed 
of a liberal education, and, withal, of rare 
literary attainments. He belonged to an old 
historic family, celebrated, not only for its 
wealth, but for all those essentials which 
contribute so much to give importance and 
standing to a community. Salem has been 
singularly fortunate in having had men of 

this stamp, who, through all the passing 


The Old Shipmasters of Salem 3 

generations, have been conspicuous in forr 
ing and fashioning her institutions, whii 
have given prestige, glory, and character 
her name, both at home and abroad. 

"Men, high-minded men, have been 
Her bulwark, stay, and strength." 

But to return to Captain White's Journa 
"The missionaries and Pasqual had fr 
quently told us that the greatest rogue 
the custom-house department — and o: 
who had great influence — was absent on 
visit to Hue, and was soon expected to i 
turn ; that to his villainy might be attribut 
the loss of the Macao trade and the dimin 
tion of that with China, and that he was 
great favor with the government, whic 
notwithstanding its professions of friendsh 
towards strangers and favor to foreign cor 
merce, was decidedly opposed to any int( 
course with them. The bearer of our lett 
to the authorities, or rather to M. Vanni( 
an official of the king, asking his aid towa 
effecting a reduction of the sagouetes, and 
bespeak his good offices in our behalf wi 

322 The Old Shipmasters 

the government, was the very personage 
who had been so represented, and his sub- 
sequent business proved that the picture 
which our friends had portrayed had not 
been caricatured. The name by which he 
was always known among those who spoke 
the Portuguese language, and by the natives 
who did not, was ' Aqua-ardiente,' the 
Portuguese name for brandy ; but whether 
this was a gratuitous cognomen of the 
Macao sailors, or was a corruption of his 
proper name, we did not care to inquire. 
The first act of this troublesome fellow was 
to demand an enormous fee for the transpor- 
tation of the letter from Hue, which was 
finally commuted to a bottle of rum and a 
yard of red cloth. . . . 

"Snakes of several species are frequently 
seen swimming in the river, among which 
are the cobra-de-capella, or hooded serpent, 
and the small green viper, whose bite is al- 
most instantaneously mortal. It is said to 
be purblind in the daytime but very quick- 
sighted in the dark. One of these latter 
subjects, now in the Museum of the East 

Of Salem 3 

India Marine Society at Salem, was killi 
by me. It had ascended from the river ar 
perched on the rowlock of the boat ve 
near my hand while I was reclining und 
the canopy. A large cobra-de-capella w 
pursued by the second mate of the Frankli 
in the boat, for about a mile. He foug 
with great fury and was frequently wound( 
by the boat hook till he finally eluded furth 
pursuit by diving under the bottoms of tl 
country vessels. 

" At the time appointed we again wait( 
on the viceroy. He was attended by abo 
40 of the officers of his own househo 
and the government linguists — Antoni 
Mariano, Joseph, and Vicente— who we 
native Christians. We were received wi 
great cordiality and attention, and his e 
cellency, throwing aside the pride, pom 
and circumstance of his exalted station, co 
versed very freely with us. His eager i 
quisitiveness and judicious selections 
subjects of inquiry proved him to be a m; 
of an enlarged mind, prompted by an u 
quenchable thirst for knowledge and infc 

324 The Old Shipmasters 

mation ; and the judicious remarks which 
he made on a variety of subjects convinced 
us of the strength of his natural powers and 
the extent of his acquirements. War, poli- 
tics, religion, and the customs and manners 
of European nations were the topics on 
which he dwelt with great interest ; and 
having heard that I held a commission in 
the naval service of my country he was very 
particular in his inquiries on the subject of 
naval tactics and maritime warfare. When 
his curiosity had been gratified in these 
particulars, he was pleased to pass many 
encomiums on the superior intelligence, 
skill, and power of 'Olan,' and with an 
emotion of mortified pride deplored the 
comparative barbarous state of his natiye 

"We were told that some refreshments 
had been provided for us, and we were not 
a little amused at the ' European style ' of 
this entertainment ! The table being high 
and the chairs low, we were obliged to re- 
linquish this item of European fashion, and 
stand around the table. Antonio had pro- 

Of Salem 3 

cured somewhere two old knives and forl< 
which we made good use of in cutting 
meat and conveying it to our mouths. T 
viceroy attended us with a bottle of tl 
liquor we had presented him, in one han 
and a glass in the other, with which he pli^ 
us till we begged for quarter, on which 1 
granted us a truce from this well-meant b 
obtrusive hospitality. His anxiety, howev( 
that we should reap the full fruition of t 
pleasure before us, pressed into service 1 
manual powers, of which we had had a foi 
taste on another state occasion, and he pr 
ceeded with his fingers to cram our mout 
with a heterogeneous assemblage of fis 
fowl, rice, pilaw, curry, pork, potatoe 
sugar-plums, etc., without any regard 
order or precedence, till our eyes began 
start from their sockets, while the big te^ 
coursed in rapid succession over our d 
tended cheeks. The viceroy did not pi 
take with us in either solids or fluids, b 
derived great apparent satisfaction from 
exertions to please him. He promised 
use his influence in persuading the holde 

326 The Old Shipmasters 

of the merchandise to bring and sell it to us 
at a reasonable rate. . . . 

" There are no wheel carriages in Cochin 
China. Persons of distinction are carried in 
hammocks of cotton netting in which are a 
mattress and pillows to recline upon. The 
hammock is suspended to a pole, over which 
is placed a canopy. The vehicle is carried 
by four or six men. Inconsequence of the 
indisposition which occurred to me, 1 used 
one of these while in the country, which I 
shall present to the Salem East India Marine 

" In the viceroy's palace were the differ- 
ent apartments of his wives and concu- 
bines, who were in gaudy dresses of various 
colors and loaded down with jewelry. On 
our approach they flocked to the verandas 
and gazed at us with eager curiosity through 
the screens and lattices, behind which they 
were partially shrouded. They were in high 
glee and frequently called to us, and, as the 
linguists said, invited us to approach that 

' This vehicle may now be seen in a room in the above-named 
Society's building. 

Of Salem ; 

they might examine our dresses, skins, e 
But when we were about to gratify 1 
ladies by nearer approach, two stout fello\ 
who were their guard, drove them back a 
posted themselves at the doors as sentinc 
As we had no wish to intrude we passed ( 
" We had long suspected that a plot v 
in agitation among the linguists and so; 
of the government officers to ensnare us 
some troublesome dilemma, and now ev( 
day's experience served to strengthen ( 
suspicion. Antonio, the head linguist, w 
was a most consummate scoundrel, had be 
employed by us to purchase our sea-stc 
of rice from the bazaar. After appropriati 
to his own use the money which we I 
advanced him for the purchase of the ri 
he undertook to be highly offended at bei 
reprimanded for his roguery. He fina 
told us the rice was ready at his house, a 
that we had better send our boats for it. < 
being questioned if he had a pass for it, 
answered in the affirmative. After securi 
the rice, we waited several hours in expec 
tion of the officers of the custom-hou 

328 The Old Shipmasters 

who, he told us, would be on board before 
the boats could return with the rice. Night 
finally approached, and no officers appeared. 
The laws against the exportation of this 
article were sanguinary and rigidly enforced, 
and should we be deceived in regard to the 
pass, and the commodity be found on board, 
or alongside our vessels, we were aware 
that our lives and the property in our charge 
would be the forfeit. We therefore sent the 
boats back and disembarked the rice at 
Antonio's house. Scarcely had this been 
effected when Antonio and some of the 
myrmidons of the custom-house came off 
from the shore and inquired where the rice 
was. We told them it had been sent back 
and relanded in consequence of their non- 
appearance. They muttered awhile and fin- 
ally werit off, evidently chagrined at the 
failure of their diabolical plans. We subse- 
quently discovered that no pass had ever 
been obtained. Our new acquaintance, 
Domingo, dared not make known to the 
viceroy the many schemes of the officers 
against us, as the mandarin of letters, whose 

Of Salem : 

very name he professed to dread, was si 
posed to be at the head of the cabal. 

" On the ist of January, Domingo inform 
us that he had used all the influence in 1 
power towards an accommodation with 1 
sugar merchants, but that he had only be 
able to bring them to agree to take 15 qu2 
per picul, and, as we then found there m 
no alternative but to depart without a 
cargoes, we finally offered him that pr 
for all he would bring us. 

"On the 8th and 9th, Domingo brou^ 
us about 50 piculs of sugar, and nearl> 
week elapsed before we saw him again, 
finally came and told us he could procure 
more. The women brokers interfered, a 
determined that no irregular person shoi 
meddle with their privileges. They co 
plained to the mandarin of letters, and 
ordered Domingo to desist, and leave 1 
women to manage their business in th 
own way. He, however, took care 
associate his own agent, a Chinese narr 
Chu-le-ung, with the female brokers, w 
stipulated to furnish us with all the su 

33° The Old Shipmasters 

in the district at the price agreed on with 
Domingo. Accordingly, on the i6th, we 
recommenced taking on board cargo/ 

"Several circumstances of a suspicious 
nature on the part of the natives had lately 
transpired, and some acts of covert hostility. 
We were frequently put in jeopardy by 
the various missiles which were frequently 
launched against us while walking the 
streets, and by no efforts we made could 
we ever discover the perpetrators of these 
outrages, excepting in one instance, when 1 
was passing up the creek with four men in 
our own boat. Among other things hurled 
at us were several heavy butts of sugar- 
cane, one of which struck my hat and would 
inevitably have broken my head had it come 
in contact with it. I caught a glimpse of 
the fellow, and, seizing a cudgel, jumped 
out to my waist in water and pursued him 
through the rabble, who attempted to detain 
me. He jumped into the creek on the other 
side and eluded my pursuit. 

' The dotchin, with which both cargoes were weighed, is now in 
the East India Marine IWuseum, presented by Captain White. 



Of Salem 

"A number of boats had been obser 
by the watches lurking about the ships 
several nights, and once when the wat 
by orders, neglected to strike the usual be 
they approached nearer. The officer of 
watch declared that this was one of 
royal guard-boats. On the following ev 
ing, at a late hour, while 1 was sitting o 
versing with Joachim, under a roofing 
mats which he had built over the quarl 
deck, the watch informed us that a la 
galley was silently dropping down with 
tide, and was quite near us. Joachim v 
greatly alarmed, and assured me that it v 
a ladrone, and no doubt intended to bo 
us. Immediate preparations were made 
repel them, and the Marmion was cautiou 
hailed to put them on their guard. Th 
however, had noticed the pirate and w 
on the alert. Although our preparati( 
had been made as silently as possible, tl 
were discovered by the pirates, who imr 
diately manned three or four oars, stee 
their vessel a little clear of us, and drop] 
anchor about 50 fathoms below the Fra', 

332 The Old Shipmasters 

lin. Our vigilance during the night de- 
prived them of an opportunity to surprise 
us. The galley did not, however, leave the 
station during the whole of the next day. 
Towards evening we sent Pasqual on board 
of the pirate craft to warn them off, threat- 
ening to sink them if they did not comply. 
In a few moments a stout crew made their 
appearance from below, weighed their an- 
chor, and pulled up the river, shouting 'Mot- 
quan ' in a most stentorian manner, 

"Joachim stated to us that several of the 
Macao ships had been robbed, and not infre- 
quently some of their crews killed, by these 
ladrones. He related the following inci- 
dent of a Macao ship, under British colors 
and officers, which had been robbed. The 
weather being extremely warm, the officers 
slept on deck. The pirates entered the 
cabin windows and took off property in 
specie to a great amount. Application was 
made to the government to assist in the de- 
tection of the robbers, but all the satisfaction 
that could be obtained was the promise that 
if the captain could find the offenders they 

Of Salem ; 

should be punished. It was well kno^ 
that the government connived at th( 

" ' Aqua-ardiente ' had become capricic 
and vindictive, and would frequently, wh 
we were taking in cargo, suddenly pu1 
stop to all further proceedings, order. 1 
boats away, and with his crew leave 1 
vessel. He was then only to be won hi 
by caresses and sagouetes, for nothing coi 
be done without his presence. 

"The original schedule, in Cochin-Chin( 
characters, of the objects which the ki 
wished us to bring him, I shall deposit 
the Museum of the Salem East India Mar 

"A few days before we quitted Saig( 
Padre Joseph begged of us some wine a 
flour. Knowing his abstemious habits, ' 
asked him to what use he intended to ap] 
these articles. He informed us that the ki 
had been frequently indisposed of late, a 
in the event of his death, an exterminatior 
the Christians was feared, and that the w 
and flour were designed as elements to 

334 The Old Shipmasters 

used at the celebration of the Eucharist, of 
which he intended to partake with his con- 
verts at their last extremity. No persuasion 
could induce this worthy, conscientious, and 
intrepid man to quit the country with us. 
His answer invariably was, that it would 
be disgraceful for him to desert his post 
in the hour of danger and leave his flock 
to the mercy of the wolves ; that now 
was the time for him to evince his zeal 
and sincerity in the service of his Master, 
and although an obscure individual, his 
sphere of action limited, and fate had placed 
him in this remote part of the globe, his 
conduct would be the same as if he were 
in the most exalted station, and the eyes of 
the whole world upon him. 

" On the 29th of January, 1820, both ships 
having taken on board less than 1700 piculs 
of sugar, Chu-le-ung informed us that there 
was no more to be procured ; but that if 
we would wait till the month of March, 
when the new crop would come in, it would 
then be plentiful and cheap. It had been 
rumored that the anticipated crop was 

Of Salem ; 

already disposed of. We waited on 1 
viceroy and demanded if it were true, 
verbally confirmed the report. Nothing v 
now left us but to prepare for immedi, 
departure. We took occasion to con 
again with the viceroy and represent 1 
hardships of our case. 

"We incidentally remarked that in 1 
list of candidates for sagouetes we obser\ 
the ' Mandarin of Elephants,' and how a 
claims of these officers, who had never b€ 
employed, could be supported, we w 
at a loss to conjecture. He advised us 
wait on the several personages in questi( 
not omitting to observe, however, that 1 
custom-house laws could not be broken 1 
by royal edict. We subsequently saw 1 
white-elephant mandarins, but got no sal 
faction. We had to pay up. On the mo 
ing of Jan. 30 we weighed anchor a 
dropped down the river, and I shall, I thii 
be readily believed, when 1 state that f 
tears were shed by us on our departure. 

" On our arrival at Batavia, we found tl 
there was neither sugar, coffee, nor £ 

336 The Old Shipmasters 

other article which would suit our purpose, 
but at the eastern ports of Java we ascer- 
tained that cargoes could be procured. We 
were, however, interdicted from proceeding 
there with any goods already on board, but 
must either discharge what cargoes we had 
previous to sailing from thence, or we might 
remain in Batavia and freight in Samarang, 
or other ports, what we wanted to complete 
our ladings. Remonstrance was of no avail, 
and it was tmally arranged that 1 should pur- 
chase the Marmion's Cochin China cargo, 
and freight the deficiency of the Frank- 
lin's lading from Samarang, while the Mar- 
mion should proceed to that place for a full 

"On the 13th of March, the Marmion 
sailed for Samarang, in which ship 1 des- 
patched my clerk, Mr. Bessel, to expedite 
my business in that place. On the 29th of 
April we sailed from Batavia, and on the 
first of May took our departure from Java 
Head. Our vessel being very deeply laden 
and the weather boisterous, our upper works 
strained and opened so as to admit great 

Of Salem 3 

quantities of water, in consequence of whi 
we were obliged to keep one pump cc 
stantly, and both occasionally, in operatic 
This situation obliged us to touch at the I: 
of France for repairs, where we arrived 
the 22d of May. On the 25th our old cc 
sort, the Marmion, which had laden \ 
cargo at Samarang, arrived. She had e 
perienced the bad weather, which h 
obliged us to stop at the island, and HI 
wise touched to repair damages. 

" May 29th, having completed repairs, > 
sailed for Port Louis, leaving the Marmt 

" On the 22d of June we passed the Ca 
of Good Hope. Our passage thence till ^ 
arrived at the latitude of 40° N. was pie; 
ant, when, it being the 23d day of Augu 
we encountered a most violent hurricai 
by which we were dismasted. 

" On the 31st of August, 1820, arrived 
Salem under jury masts, having been abse 
20 months." 


The Story of Certain Famous Vess 
of War and of their Successors in t 
Navies of the United States and of t 
Confederate States of America frt 
1775 to 1903 


Late U. S, Mavy 

Author of " Twenty Years at Sea," " The Story of the Lucky Little 
'Enterprise,'" etc. 

With an Introduction by George Eugene Belki 

Rear Admiral (Retired) V. J.-V. 
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Old Paths and Legends 
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